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Old West Dinner Cookout in Yellowstone National Park: Our Review

people gathered around campfire

In 2021, we finally did an activity we had been wanting to do for some time: the Old West Dinner Cookout, put on by Xanterra, the concessionaire for Yellowstone.

The Old West Dinner Cookout is a cookout in Pleasant Valley in Yellowstone, where they serve you a steak dinner and cowboy coffee, and sing cowboy songs while the sun sets. To get there, you can ride a stagecoach or a horse. This experience did not disappoint – everyone in our party really enjoyed it!

If you’re thinking about doing the Old West Dinner Cookout, keep on reading for more information.

Yellowstone's Roosevelt Lodge & Old West Cookout: A delicious trip back in time

Getting There

Map of Tower-Roosevelt area of Yellowstone

The Old West Cookout is located at Roosevelt Lodge at the Tower-Roosevelt junction (link) in Yellowstone. As you arrive at the Lodge, you can’t miss the parking lot and horse corrals to the south.

Gathering and Formalities

We gathered around to hear an employee tell us what we could expect and what rules we had to follow

From my memory, he said not to pet the horses until they gave us permission, and to only eat one steak until the second dinner bell was rung. Oh, and that the bathrooms were a disaster, so go now or brave the nasty bathrooms at the dinner site.

Roosevelt Horse Corral
Old West Cookout gathering

Stagecoach or Horseback

If you book the Old West Cookout, you have two options for getting there: stagecoach or horseback. I probably would have chosen the horseback ride (options: 1 or 2 hours) if it were just me, but my entire family was with me (including my parents), so we opted for the stagecoach.

The stagecoach ride is also cheaper.

The horseback riders arrived at the cookout destination at about the same time as the stagecoach.

Boarding of stagecoaches
people riding horses

The Stagecoach Ride

An employee helps each person climb a step ladder into the stagecoach. 

The stagecoach had plenty of legroom, from my memory. 

tour guide in stagecoach
horse
Early Yellowstone stagecoach
Actual early Yellowstone stagecoach, located in Cody, Wyoming

The stagecoaches are yellow, a nod to the early Yellowstone stagecoaches that were used before automobiles. 

The ride crosses over the main road, then travels on a dirt road for about 20 minutes (if my memory serves correctly). 

We saw a big bison along the way. 

bison in grass

The Employees

Every employee we met was very professional, kind, and knowledgeable. We never felt like they were just “herding” us through or didn’t appreciate that we were there.

Near the end, they told us that they have to defend the Old West Cookout to the park service every year. One reason I’m writing this review is so others, and the National Park Service, know how nice this experience is so it can continue to be there for tourists for years to come.

Pleasant Valley

The ride ends in Pleasant Valley. It used to be called Yancy’s Hole, after a man named John Yancy who had a cabin here. When his cabin burned down, the Roosevelt Lodge was built as a replacement

It’s a nice little valley and a quiet getaway from the crowds. 

They had a few antlers and other things that our kids enjoyed playing with. 

A stream flows through the valley and they gave us a chance to approach the horses.

horses and stagecoaches
horses and stagecoaches

Dinner Time

An employee literally rang the dinner bell when it was ready, and everyone got in line. 

The steaks are cooked on a propane grill. 

You get one serving to start with, but after everyone has been served they ring a second dinner bell letting you know you can go back for seconds, thirds, and more

I don’t believe they ran out of food. 

Yellowstone is known for having bad food, but I really loved my food! The steak, baked beans, cobbler — I want some right now!

steak dinner

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Cowboy Coffee

We don’t drink coffee, but supposedly the cowboy coffee is really good. They served it hot from the campfire the entire time, I believe.

Singing

man singing and playing guitar

A cowboy played music while we waited for dinner and while we were eating. He even took requests for popular country songs, though he made no promises that he would be able to honor all requests. 

Gather ’round the Campfire

After dinner, we all gathered around the campfire for a little entertainment. They told some jokes to get the crowd loosened up, then had the crowd join in on some songs.

group gathered around campfire

Bathrooms

Just a reminder – they told us the bathrooms were nasty and to go before leaving the parking lot. We still saw many people using them.

Cheryl had to use the restroom and said it was indeed gross. So you’ve been forewarned! LOL.

The Send Off

After we got loaded up on the stagecoach for the return ride, they rode past the cooks and campfire workers. Our stagecoach had to come up with its own cheer to tell them thanks.

With little time to prepare, all we could come up with was “Wagon 8, Thanks for the Steak, We appreciate!” Not Shakespeare, but hey, it was fun!

stagecoaches driving

How to Get Reservations

For more details, and to get reservations, see the Old West Dinner Cookout website. You can reserve them online or by calling Xanterra.

Final Thoughts

Of all the paid experiences I’ve had in the park, including the Lake Yellowstone boat tour and the horseback ride at Canyon, this was my favorite. I highly recommend this experience to enhance your Yellowstone visit.

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MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
YELLOWSTONE

YELLOWSTONE TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Yellowstone National Park, check out our Yellowstone Homepage

ENTRANCES: Yellowstone has 5 entrances: The West Entrance, the East Entrance, the Northeast Entrance, the North Entrance, and the South Entrance. Learn which entrance to Yellowstone is right for you with our Free Quick and Easy Guide

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Yellowstone has to offer including Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Lake, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and West Thumb and Grant’s Village

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn all about where to stay and where to camp when visiting Yellowstone and things to do in Cody, Wyoming, and other areas surrounding Yellowstone

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat including the Old West Dinner Cookout and also where to get groceries and eat picnics in Yellowstone National Park

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation or bear spray and binoculars, as well as tips for driving in and flying to Yellowstone 

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Yellowstone National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Yellowstone YouTube Playlist

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