Yellowstone, Wyoming
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Top 5 Reasons to Dine at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges

Come for the scenic park and stay for the delectable dining

By Katie Jackson

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Destination dining now applies to national parks. Thanks to the caliber of food and culinary experiences being served in Yellowstone National Park Lodges, it’s easy to get away with saying one of the reasons you’re visiting the world’s first national park is to eat as if it’s your last meal. Ultimately, there are as many reasons to dine in Yellowstone as there are enticing dishes on the menus at all 19 of the park’s distinct eateries. But for the sake of time, here are the top five reasons.

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Enjoy local flavors

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It makes sense to come to Yellowstone to see the mountain goats on Sepulcher Mountain. But to come to Yellowstone for goat cheese? That makes sense, too. The rich chévre served atop the roasted local beet and goat cheese salad at Lake Yellowstone Hotel comes from Amaltheia Organic Dairy. Amaltheia Organic Dairy is just one of more than two dozen local, sustainable small businesses supplying Yellowstone National Park Lodges with ingredients you would expect to see at a farmers market, not in a national park.

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For starters, there are organic vegetables such as kale and beets. Then, there’s the stuff entrees are made of, such as gourmet meat and home-grown wheat (Lake Yellowstone Hotel’s Montana lamb slider is enveloped by mini-brioche buns baked by Wheat Montana.) And that crisp, craft Hefeweizen you can sip on at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Inn? It’s brewed about an hour north of Yellowstone at Katabatic Brewery in Livingston, Montana.

Support growth of local businesses

Two ice cream cones displayed on the counter of The Ice Creamery at Canyon Lodge and Cabins in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Just because you don’t step foot into a small business doesn’t mean you’re not supporting one. That’s certainly the case in Yellowstone, where the local businesses working with the lodges aren’t just thought of as suppliers—they’re valued as partners. In ordering a charcuterie sampler with Montana cheeses after hiking around Yellowstone Lake, you’re helping to grow the Brown family’s goatherd at Amaltheia Organic Dairy. Before the family-owned and operated business started partnering with the lodges, they had 90 goats.

Two ice cream cones displayed on the counter of The Ice Creamery at Canyon Lodge and Cabins in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Today they’re milking three times that! Amaltheia has gotten big enough that their products are found in national retailers while staying small enough that the Browns themselves still give farm tours to area schoolchildren. Meanwhile, Big Dipper—the Montana-based ice cream maker keeping Canyon Lodge Ice Creamery stocked with homemade huckleberry ice cream, among other flavors—has also expanded its operations and opened a new brick and mortar location since being introduced in Yellowstone.

Experience high quality

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Yogi Bear may have had to pack his picnic basket around Jellystone, but in Yellowstone, there are plenty of options for national-park-style fine dining. In fact, Mammoth Hotel Dining Room received national recognition in 2016 when it became the first 4-star certified green restaurant in the national parks and in the state of Wyoming.

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Today, it’s one of only 32 restaurants in the country with the highest sustainability rating. While you may not notice the dining room’s waste-sorting process or the energy-efficient LED lighting, you will remember your meal. That’s because the locally sourced, mostly seasonal ingredients are of the highest quality. For example, the elk sliders and bison tenderloin steaks served in the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room are as fresh as you can get. A quick scan of the 26 partners listed on the menus is also a great testament to the excellence of each ingredient. With the exception of the Rainforest Alliance, most partners have names hinting at family farms, speciality ranches and artisanal purveyors.

Contribute to sustainability

Furniture in the corner of a room that uses beetle kill wood as wainscot at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges in Wyoming

Sometimes, the best way not to lose your public lands is to use your public lands. At Yellowstone National Park Lodges, your walking in the front door actually helps contribute to a softer carbon footprint. How? For starters, it’s impossible to visit without engaging in sustainable practices such as choosing to sip “straw-free” and purchasing souvenirs that can trace their roots—literally, in some cases—back to the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. You have a better chance of bumping into a local artist-in-residence whose work is sold in the gift shops than bumping over a pyramid of cheap, plastic toys imported from China.

Furniture in the corner of a room that uses beetle kill wood as wainscot at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges in Wyoming

When you’re not shopping and supporting local artists and artisans, you might be admiring the lodges’ unique woodwork. Everything from end tables to headboards and accent walls are made from bug-damaged trees rescued from diseased forests surrounding Yellowstone. In fact, your visit, especially if you eat at the lodges, should come with a warning label: Yellowstone National Park Lodges is not responsible if you come home with a waste not, want not mentality.

Excellent customer service

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The same places where people vacation to escape the stresses of their everyday lives are the same places setting the standard for best-in-class customer service. That’s why if you want to modify anything on a Yellowstone National Park Lodges’ menu to meet a dietary need or preference, you don’t need to worry about insulting the chef. Much like staff are proud stewards of the park, they’re proud stewards of your plate. The only things you’re responsible for are deciding what you want for dinner and making sure you leave room for dessert.

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Dine at Yellowstone National Park Lodges.