Mammoth undertaking brings new-look ‘Art Moderne’ hotel in Yellowstone

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Yellowstone is getting set to unveil an all-new look of the recently restored Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and she’s a beauty!

The National Park Service (NPS) recently completed the extensive four-year renovation of the historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, totaling about $30 million. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place August 30 from 10am to 1pm.

Members of the cavalry ride horses in front of a sturdy stone building Albright Visitor Center, part of the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District and Fort Yellowstone Historic Landmark District, housed the first information office now serving as the visitor center. (NPS)

History of Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel

The hotel has undergone many iterations in its storied history in response to changing transportation modes, park management, visitation, and facility conditions. The area has long been a hub for visitors and traces its roots to 1883 when the National Hotel was built Queen Anne style and ready to lodge tourists arriving by six-horse “Tally Ho” Yellowstone Observation Coaches.

Considered one of the first “grand” hotels in any national park, the National Hotel operated until 1904 under that moniker until a name change to the Mammoth Hotel.

In 1913, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel underwent a major reconstruction overseen by Robert Reamer, the architect responsible for designing the Old Faithful Inn. This renovation saw a new east wing of guest rooms (still standing today), the demolition of an entire floor, and a new flat roof.

Another major renovation began in 1936, again under architect Robert Reamer. It essentially cut the hotel in two—leaving the dining room separate from the new lobby and map room and the 1913 east guest room wing. Reamer also added a recreation hall and the cottages, still located behind the hotel today. The building was painted a light gray and remodeled in what would be known as the Art Moderne style.

Art Moderne is an architectural style of the 1930s and 1940s characterized by streamlined, horizontal structures with flat roofs and curved walls or rounded corners. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel remains one of only a few art moderne hotels in the National Park System. After operating briefly as the Mammoth Motor Inn (1966-77), the facility was finally renamed Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins in 1977. The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District is registered in the US National Register of Historic Places.

Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District as it looked in 1983. (Wikipedia)

Grand reopening

Visitors may listen to remarks from Yellowstone National Park’s superintendent, the National Park Service project manager, and the general manager of Xanterra. Visitors can also take a tour of the renovated hotel, talk with an NPS museum staff member about Reamer’s map, and meet a park ranger in the hotel lobby for a one hour “Calling in the Cavalry Walk” around the historic Fort Yellowstone.

Event details include:

  • 10-10:30am listen to remarks from Yellowstone National Park’s superintendent, the project manager, and Xanterra’s general manager.
  • 11am-1pm take a tour of the refurbished hotel led by Xanterra. Tours start in the hotel lobby.
  • 11am-1 pm visit with the NPS in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Map Room about the carefully restored Reamer Map.
  • 11:30am meet a park ranger in the hotel lobby for a one-hour Calling in the Cavalry Walk around Fort Yellowstone.

Yellowstone and Xanterra partnered to preserve the historic look and feel of this important art moderne structure, one of the few in the NPS. With an emphasis towards sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint, utilities, accessibility, and seismic standards were brought up to code. Additionally, highly trained NPS restoration specialists carefully rehabilitated Robert Reamer’s famous wooden map in the Map Room. In total, the project brought the “shine” back to this beautiful, elegant gathering space that will operate nearly year-round.

The project is a great example of Yellowstone’s ongoing efforts to reduce deferred maintenance and improve the condition of important historic resources.  In 2018, Yellowstone reported a deferred maintenance backlog exceeding $586 million. Park managers believe this is a conservative estimate. The park and its partners will continue making significant investments in a wide range of infrastructure projects in upcoming years.

View from the top of Mammoth Hot Springs today. (NPS, Neal Herbert)

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