While visiting Yellowstone Nat'l Park, guests have many options regarding food. While you will find lots of people doing as I did, picnicking across the park from point to point, there are others who view vacation as a time to be pampered and not camp. Personally speaking, I find camp cooking to be more work and effort than cooking at home, so I avoid that at all costs!
For those willing to pack and keep a cooler filled with ice, it is easy to take perishable foods for your visit even if you are planning to camp during your stay. Most big rig RVs are equipped with wonderful refrigerators, which removes the hassle of ice. For my trip, I opted to avoid the ice challenge packing only dry, nonperishable items. Peanut butter and jelly (using the small room service sized jelly jars) made for decent meals along with beef jerky, trail mix, fresh fruit and lunchbox sized fruit cups. I took a case of .5 liter bottles of water as well as a 12 pack of diet cokes on the chance that I did come across convenient ice along my travels. (At Roosevelt's Roughriders Cabins, each shower house had an ice machine which provided registered guests with unlimited free ice!) There are a lot of choices throughout the park in terms of picnic areas and turnouts with tranquil overlooks.
Even with my game plan for meals, I did indulge in a couple of meals inside the park. As with most other US National Parks, they have outsourced most of their lodging and food services to an outside vendor. Xanterra is the vendor in Yellowstone and seemingly does a good job.
Each of of the "village" areas within Yellowstone has a variety of dining options including cafeterias, restaurants, cafes and soda fountains. At the nice restaurants, like those found at Old Faithful and Lake Lodge, dinner reservations are required and are considered to be a premium as you must make plans well in advance of your visit. Even an impromptu stop for lunch as someplace like the Roosevelt Lodge restaurant may require a wait. My friend Nancy had an hour wait for a table late on a Friday afternoon for just a salad. She did say it was delicious and worth the wait.
During my visit, I dined in the park on two occasions . . . the first was for a late dinner at the Canyon Soda Fountain where I had a burger and fries . . . and the second was breakfast on my last morning in the park at the Lake Lodge Cafeteria. Both meals were very good and a surprising value considering where I was. I paid $8.05 for the burger & fries and $10.50 for my cafeteria style ala carte breakfast.
For those who may want to expand beyond the park, there are border towns at three of the entrance areas: West Yellowstone, Gardiner and Silver Gate all in Montana. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning escape to the Tumbleweed Bookstore & Cafe in Gardiner which was a multipurpose trip planned in advance for "cheap" gas and free WiFi. It was equally nice to see that area of the park that extends out to the North Entrance.
Whatever you do, be respectful and use appropriate trash facilities found throughout the park to include recycling receptacles. Be "bear aware" and properly store your food especially if you are camping. And no feeding your scraps to the wildlife!