National parks are already famous for their incredible scenery and wildlife, so it’s high time to acknowledge their outstanding offerings in the realm of accommodations. Yes, outstanding. It may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of national park lodging, but if you have even the slightest appreciation for classic “parkitecture” and buildings with historical significance, you’ll agree that select national park properties are almost as noteworthy as the parks they’re in. Not a fan of rustic accommodations with few amenities? That’s understandable. However, be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that all national park properties fall in that category. There are a few hotels on the list below that can easily be described as full-service and furthermore, luxurious. Take a look at these six finds that will leave you daydreaming about dropping your bags in your room and settling in for a relaxing stay.
National Park Lodging
Glacier Park Lodge
“WOW.” That’s the title of a rave TripAdvisor review from a Glacier Park Lodge guest who stayed here in February, 2015. Although the 161-room lodge is seven miles from a park entrance, it’s conveniently located in East Glacier which is serviced by Amtrak. The lobby’s fireplace is definitely a focal point, but what is really incredible and memorable about this lodge are the enormous 500+-year-old Douglas fir and cedar timbers that provide the structural support for the property. In fact, when construction was completed in 1913, the local Blackfeet Indian tribe nicknamed the lodge, “Big Tree Lodge.” While the property has undergone renovations and additions, more than 100 years later, the nickname still stands. Guests at Glacier Park Lodge can expect several on-site dining options, a gift shop, an outdoor swimming pool, a 9-hole golf course and a Remedies Day Spa Express offering a variety of treatments
This Glacier National Park lodge is located within the park, and perhaps in the heart of the best area of the park for viewing wildlife, Many Glacier. With more than 200 guest rooms, it’s the largest hotel in the park. All of the rooms have private bathrooms (a novelty in national parks), but they’re also designed to reflect the early 1900s when the property was built. In other words, guests can expect a rustic flair and basic amenities. What really sets this five-story lodge apart is its idyllic location on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and its chalet-style architecture that seems straight out of a Swiss fairytale. Lakeside rooms with balconies are worth the splurge, but guests who plan on spending more of their stay enjoying the lakefront activities and the property’s Swiss Lounge and Ptarmigan Dining Room are probably just as happy in a value room.
Very few hotel descriptions lead with “Situated on the rim of an extinct volcano,” but that’s the case when it comes to Oregon’s Crater Lake Lodge. Naturally, the view factor is huge here. Rim-view rooms feature unforgettable vistas of North America’s deepest, and perhaps bluest, lake. The most coveted rooms are the corner rooms and the two-story lofts, but at the end of the day, most guests end up spending the majority of their indoor time comfortably curled up by the stone fireplace in the Great Hall. Operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, this lodge which is celebrating its centennial in 2015 is serious about sustainability. The on-site restaurant serves dishes featuring fresh herbs and produce grown in its greenhouse and for ingredients such as ice cream, beer and meat that can’t be sourced within the national park, it buys from local producers.
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As the only accommodations within the park and located just a stone’s throw from the Bryce Amphitheater – Bryce Canyon National Park’s most popular attraction – this historic lodge boasts unparalleled access to hiking trails and scenic overlooks. As a result of expert preservation efforts, the original structure which was built in 1925 is still entirely intact. Guests have the option of staying in rim-front hotel-style rooms, guest suites and studios in the main lodge and western cabins which feature gas fireplaces and porches. Amenities include free Wi-Fi in the main lodge and the cafe, coin-operated laundry in the general store and comfort food take-out from the property’s pizzeria. Besides its proximity to Bryce Canyon’s best natural features and rock formations, the Lodge at Bryce Canyon has one of the best gift shops in the national park system. In addition to offering the customary go-to souvenirs like mugs and t-shirts, the shop has an extensive selection of handmade arts and crafts from local artists and Native Americans. Guests can even purchase their room’s wool blankets that resemble those used by the local Southern Paiute tribe and were custom designed for the lodge.
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Bragging rights for this national historic landmark include “largest log structure in the world.” As the most sought-after accommodations in Yellowstone, Old Faithful Inn has no problem filling its 327 rooms during its season which runs from approximately May through October. It’s hard to compete with the geyser action just outside its doors, but the inn’s open and spacious lobby is a multi-story log masterpiece. The crown jewel of the lobby is the 500-ton, floor-to-ceiling 85-foot-tall stone fireplace featuring a giant iron clock. Guests, and inn visitors, can take a break from sightseeing and get a bite to eat at the property’s dining options which include a full-service restaurant, lounge and snack bar. Rooms are modest in terms of amenities, but it’s easy to sacrifice on things like air conditioning and TV when the trade-off is a view of the colorful geyser basin.
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Upon checking in, guests often have a hard time leaving the lobby and heading to their rooms. That’s because this luxurious lodge boasts 60-foot-tall windows with jaw-dropping views of the jagged peaks of the Teton Mountains and the Snake River-fed Jackson Lake in the foreground. This full-service resort is conveniently located within Grand Teton National Park, and its amenities include exceptional dining (think locally-sourced bison and wild salmon served in front of the Mural Dining Room’s panoramic windows), a boutique apparel shop with designer fashions and fine jewelry, a heated outdoor swimming pool with poolside BBQ and even a fenced-in playground for the kids. While they lack TVs, radios and air-conditioning, rooms in the main lodge and the surrounding cottages have complimentary Wi-Fi and modern furnishings – both rarities when it comes to national park guest rooms.
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