Soaring ceilings with rustic log beams. Enormous stone fireplaces with roaring fires. Floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of mountains, lakes and canyons. Bison and moose staring down from the walls. Grand dining rooms, cozy lounges and fascinating history rooms … These are the legendary lodges that dominate many US national parks.
Whether you choose to stay there, have a meal or just pop into the lobby to look around, no visit to the national parks of America is complete without checking out these amazing inns and lodges.
This complete guide to the national park lodges includes these national park historic lodges plus some more modern national parks lodging options just outside the parks.
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Yellowstone National Park
#1 Old Faithful Inn
WHERE: Wyoming. The Old Faithful Inn is in the Upper Geyser Basin section of the park next to the Old Faithful geyser.
WHY: The Old Faithful Inn is not only the jewel of all the lodges at Yellowstone National Park, it is truly one of the great lodges of the national parks system.
Built in 1904, it is one of the few remaining log hotels in the United States. The enormous log and wood-frame structure is seven stories high! The lobby has a towering 65-foot (20-meter) ceiling and you can see the entire structure made from rustic logs. There is an enormous stone fireplace that you can view from the lobby level or from above on one of the balconies.
The inn is right next to Old Faithful geyser. In fact, you can see it erupt from the first-floor terrace.
WHEN: Open June to October
READ MORE: If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone, read my Guide to Yellowstone National Park for helpful information.
# 2 Lake Yellowstone Hotel
WHERE: Wyoming. The hotel and cabins are near the shore of Yellowstone Lake in the southern section of the park.
WHY: When it comes to beautiful historic national park lodges, Yellowstone National Park has more than its fair share. The Yellowstone Lake Hotel is a gorgeous yellow Colonial Revival building, built in the 1920s and recently fully restored. Don’t miss dining in the dining room, where enormous windows provide stunning views of the lawn and lake beyond.
WHEN: Open May to October
READ MORE: Check out my Guide to Yellowstone National Park for more details about the park
Grand Canyon National Park
#3 El Tovar
WHERE: Arizona. The lodge is perched right on the edge of the canyon’s south rim at Grand Canyon Village.
WHY: El Tovar is the grandest of the Grand Canyon National Park lodges and is often considered the finest of the historic national park lodges. The hotel was built in 1905 for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway and was owned and operated by the famous Fred Harvey Company.
Perched right on the edge of the south rim of Grand Canyon, its location couldn’t be any better. Inside are rustic Oregon pine log beams and plush furniture. Even if you stay elsewhere, don’t miss the grand dining room, with sky high beamed ceilings and fine dining.
WHEN: Open all year
READ MORE: Read my Guide to Grand Canyon to help plan your trip
#4 Bright Angel Lodge
WHERE: Arizona. The lodge is in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim.
WHY: The Bright Angel Lodge may not be as grand as El Tovar, but it is steeped in history and full of charm and character.
The lodge was designed by Mary E.J. Colter for the Santa Fe Railroad in 1935. A highlight is the famous “geologic” fireplace in the History Room, which is built from stones coming from all of the rock layers of Grand Canyon, starting with smooth stones from the Colorado River all the way up to the youngest stone from the rim’s strata. The History Room also has displays on the Harvey Girls, historic postcards and menus, and more.
Another highlight is the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, which was built in the 1890s by William “Buckey” O’Neill and converted into a guest room by Mary Colter. If you stay there, you will have stunning canyon views right outside your front door.
WHEN: Open all year
READ MORE: Find useful tips and info for planning your trip in my Guide to Grand Canyon National Park
#5 Phantom Ranch
WHERE: Arizona. The ‘ranch’ is at the bottom of Grand Canyon.
WHY: If you want to stay at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and who wouldn’t?), then you will stay at the atmospherically-named 1920’s Phantom Ranch. The ‘ranch’ is the only one of the Grand Canyon park lodges actually inside the canyon.
It’s not fancy – the accommodations are rustic cabins or hiker dorms, and there is a basic canteen area for family-style meals – but being surrounded by the towering walls of the Grand Canyon is a magical once-on-a lifetime experience everyone should have.
Keep in mind that to get there, you must either hike down the 9-mile Bright Angel Trail or take a mule down from the south rim.
WHEN: Open all year
HOW: To book the Phantom Ranch, you need to enter a lottery up to 14 months in advance. I have written a detailed guide to booking Phantom Ranch.
READ MORE: Plan your trip with my Grand Canyon Guide
Yosemite National Park
#6 The Ahwahnee
WHERE: California. The Ahwahnee is at the east end of Yosemite Valley.
WHY: The Ahwahnee is another of the best national park hotels and the most stunning – and most famous – of the Yosemite National Park lodges.
It was built in the 1902 to attract wealthier visitors to the park and it still exudes style today. Don’t miss the Grand Lounge with its enormous fireplaces; the 34-foot high Dining Room; and the cozy Yosemite Winter Club Room and Mural Room, which are filled with historic photos and artwork.
The hotel was briefly called the Majestic Yosemite in the mid 2010’s while there was a name dispute, but it back to its original name. There are views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point from the hotel grounds.
WHEN: Open all year
READ MORE: More detailed information on Yosemite in my Guide to Yosemite National Park
Crater Lake National Park
#7 Crater Lake Lodge
WHERE: Oregon. The lodge is in Rim Village, overlooking Crater Lake.
WHY: This classic national park lodge has a location second-to-none. It sits on the edge of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, and enjoys stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It is a short three-minute walk to the Sinnott Memorial Observation Station.
The Great Hall is a grand room with an enormous fireplace and the dining room has amazing views of the lake. There is also a fascinating Exhibit Room with displays about the history of the lake and lodge.
WHEN: Open mid-May to mid-October
Glacier National Park
#8 Many Glacier Hotel
WHERE: Montana. The hotel is on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake in the northeastern Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. This area is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of North America′′.
WHY: There are three epic national parks hotels servicing Glacier National Park. The Many Glacier Hotel is not only the largest of the lodges in Glacier National Park, Montana, it is also arguably the grandest.
Sitting right on the lakeshore across from jaw-dropping snow-capped peaks, its location is hard to beat. It was built in 1915 by the Great Northern Railway and was partially renovated in 2016. The five-floor hotel has a stunning lakeside dining room and is packed with old world charm.
WHEN: Open early June to mid-September
#9 Lake McDonald Lodge
WHERE: Montana. The lodge is 10 miles inside the park’s west entrance on the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the shores of Lake McDonald.
WHY: The other famous Glacier National Park lodging inside park is this grand, but rustic, hotel that sits right on the east shore of the park’s largest lake, Lake McDonald.
Dating from 1913, it has a Swiss chalet style lodge, cabins and Snyder Hall and Cobb House. Guests can hang out in the grand lobby or on the veranda overlooking the lake and then enjoy dinner at the rustic but elegant Russell’s Fireside Dining Room.
WHEN: Open mid-May to late September
#10 Glacier Park Lodge
WHERE: Montana. The lodge is just outside Glacier National Park’s Two Medicine Lake area in the village of East Glacier Park.
WHY: Located just outside the park, the Glacier Park Lodge is finest of the lodges near Glacier National Park. It was the first Glacier Park hotel built by the Great Northern Railway (in 1913) and still awes guests with its enormous 40-foot-high pillars in the lobby made of Douglas fir logs and large stone fireplace.
WHEN: Open early June to mid-to-late September
READ MORE: There is more information about the park in my Guide to Glacier National Park
Mount Rainer National Park
#11 Paradise Inn
WHERE: Washington state. The inn is located in the southwest corner of the park on the southern slope of the mountain, 19 miles inside the southwest Nisqually entrance of the park.
WHY: Built in 1916, this classic national park lodging is designated as one of the “Great Lodges of the West”. Nestled in a forest on the southern slopes of Mount Rainier and a short walk from Myrtle Falls, the rustic inn provides a perfect national parks experience.
Be sure to have dinner in the beautiful rustic dining room, which has exposed wood beams and a large fireplace.
WHEN: Open mid-May to early October
Grand Teton National Park
#12 Jenny Lake Lodge
WHERE: Wyoming. The lodge is near Jenny Lake.
WHY: Jenny Lake Lodge boasts the best dining room in all of the Grand Teton National Park lodges. The four-diamond restaurant, housed in a 1930’s log cabin, offers a five-course prix fixe dinner that is out of this world.
The lodge, which started as a dude ranch in the 1920’s, is now an elegant, rustic eco-resort with cabins in gardens near the lake. Guest stays include complimentary activities such as horseback riding and bike rentals.
WHEN: Open early June to early October
READ MORE: Plan your trip to the Tetons with my Grand Teton National Park Guide
#13 Jackson Lake Lodge
WHERE: Wyoming. Near Jackson Lake and the Moran entrance to the park.
WHY: Located just five minutes from Jackson Lake, this is another strong contender for the best national park lodges. The 60-foot floor-to-ceiling windows provide guests with breathtaking views of the Grand Teton mountains from the dining room and lobby. There is also a swimming pool and a permanent exhibit of Native American artifacts and Western art.
WHEN: Open mid-May to early October
READ MORE: There is much more information about the national park in my Guide to the Grand Tetons
Bryce Canyon National Park
#14 The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
WHERE: Utah. Inside the park near Bryce Amphitheater
WHY: The two-floor lodge was built in 1924-6 from local logs and stones. The shingle roof has an unusual wave-like pattern.
Inside, the lobby has classic arts and craft details, with fireplaces made of rough stones. The dining room, like many national park lodges and inns, has exposed log beams. Most of the accommodations are stone cabins scattered through the surrounding woods.
WHEN: Open early March to the end of December
READ MORE: Plan your trip to Bryce Canyon with my Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park
#15 Zion Lodge
WHERE: Utah. Inside the park in the middle of the canyon.
WHY: Zion lodge is the only one of the Zion National Park lodges inside the park. The lodge was built in 1924, but most of it was destroyed in a fire in 1966. It was immediately rebuilt, but without its original charm. Fortunately, much of the original look was restored in a 1990 renovation. Some of the guest cabins dating from the late 1920s did survive the fire and are still in use today.
One of the classic Utah national park lodges, its main attraction is its location. Smack bang in the middle of the canyon, it is spread along the canyon wall around a large lawn dominated by an enormous cottonwood tree. Staying there really gives you a feel for the canyon that visiting for the day cannot.
WHEN: Open all year
HOW: BOOK ZION LODGE
READ MORE: There is much more detailed information about Zion in my Guide to Zion National Park
Death Valley National Park
#16 The Oasis at Death Valley
WHERE: California. Furnace Creek in the middle of Death Valley.
WHY: The Oasis actually includes two hotels – the stunning historic Inn at Death Valley and the family-oriented Ranch at Death Valley. The Inn is a recently-renovated four-diamond resort dating from 1927. It comes complete with an outdoor pool fed by a natural spring that provides a wonderful respite from the heat. Wander through the date palm gardens, enjoy a drink under the stars on the Stargazers Deck or cozy up in the Inn’s library.
HOW: Open year round
READ MORE: Learn more about Death Valley in my Guide to Death Valley National Park
Denali National Park
#17 Denali Backcountry Lodge
WHERE: Alaska. The lodge is a backcountry lodge in Kantishna, which is a private area surrounded by the national park at the far end of the 92-mile Park Road.
WHY: This is one of only three Denali National Park lodges in the ‘backcountry’. Just getting there is half the fun. The lodge lies deep within the park at the far end of the Park Road, on the banks of Moose Creek. You may see caribou, grizzly bears, moose, wolves and eagles along the way – and from the lodge. And of course, Denali itself – the highest peak in North America.
There are 42 cabins and a comfortable lodge with a living-room-style lounge with a fireplace. There are two screened terraces to enjoy the surrounding Alaskan scenery. Optional flightseeing is available.
WHEN: From early June to mid-September
Olympic National Forest
WHERE: Washington state. The lodge is located on the shores of Lake Quinault in the southwest corner of the park. It’s technically within the national forest rather than the very nearby national park.
WHY: The best and grandest of the Olympic National Park lodges, Lake Quinault is another classic national park inn. Dating from 1926, the rustic lodge is surrounded by the forest and the lake.
It is perhaps most famous for the Roosevelt Dining Room. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dined in the grand room in 1937. The views of the lake and forest outside the wrap-around windows impressed him so much that nine months later, he created the national park.
WHEN: Open all year
READ MORE: Read more about the Olympic Peninsula in my Guide to Olympic National Park
Shenandoah National Park
#19 Big Meadows Lodge
WHERE: Virginia. The lodge is located one mile from the large, grassy meadow at mile 51 on Skyline Drive.
WHY: The Big Meadows Lodge is the best of the lodges in Shenandoah National Park. The lodge was built in 1939 from stones from the Massanutten Mountains and native wormy chestnut wood, which is now virtually extinct. The main lodge has beautiful oak and chestnut paneling and gorgeous views of the stunning national park.
WHEN: Open late April to early November
Sequoia National Park
#20 Wuksachi Lodge
WHERE: California. The lodge is located in the Lodgepole area of the park, near the General Sherman Tree and Congress Trail.
WHY: Wuksachi Lodge is the park’s signature hotel. Although it is a new addition to the US national park lodges list, dating from just 1999, it is built in the same grand style as many historic lodges of the national parks, making this the best of the lodges Sequoia National Park offers.
The cedar and stone building is surrounded by sequoia, pine, cedar and fir trees, and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Enormous windows and a large terrace provide superlative views, while an oversized stone fireplace is the perfect place to cozy up in the evening.
WHEN: Open all year
HOW: BOOK WUKSACHI LODGE
READ MORE: Plan your trip to the national park with my Guide to Sequoia National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
#21 Far View Lodge
WHERE: Colorado. The lodge is on Chapin Mesa, 15 miles from the park entrance.
WHY: The lobby and dining room of Far View Lodge have traditional Western décor with Native American artwork, and stunning views. The famous Metate Room restaurant has wrap around windows and award-winning sustainable cuisine inspired by regional heritage foods.
WHEN: Open May to September
HOW: BOOK FAR VIEW LODGE
READ MORE: Use my Mesa Verde Mountain National Park Guide to help plan your trip
Presidio of San Francisco national park
#22 The Inn and the Lodge at the Presidio
WHERE: The Presidio, San Francisco
WHY: The Presidio used to be a military outpost. The 1,500-acre park dominates the area in San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge. Some of the former barracks are now restaurants, museums and stores. And some make up the Inn and the Lodge at the Presidio.
The 42-room Lodge, which dates from 1895, used to house soldiers and artillery.
Across the lawn is the older hotel, the Inn, which used to be Pershin Hall, a home for unmarried officers. The 22-room inn has a communal “mess hall” and outdoor fire pit. It was voted one of the ten best hotels in San Francisco by Condé Nast Traveler readers.
WHEN: Open all year
Rocky Mountain National Park
#23 The Stanley Hotel
WHERE: Colorado. Estes Park, just outside the east entrance to the national park.
WHY: The Stanley Hotel is perhaps most famous for being the location for the Shining, but this gorgeous Victorian hotel, nestled at the foot of the enormous Rocky Mountains, would be a standout even without that notoriety.
For people seeking something a little extra, there are several ”spirited” rooms that experience high paranormal activity including the famous Stephen King Suite 217; the Ghost Hunters’ favorite room 401; 418 where guests have repeatedly complained about the noise of young children playing in the hall outside; and room 407, where Lord Dunraven supposedly still resides.
Even if you are not seeking an extra thrill, the historic building with classically decorated rooms is a beautiful place to stay for your Rockies adventure.
WHEN: Open all year
READ MORE: Use my Rocky Mountain National Park Guide to help plan your trip
Acadia National Park
#24 Asticou Inn
WHERE: Maine. The historic hotel is just outside the park in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
WHY: The historic Asticou Inn has epitomized New England elegance since 1883. With lovely flower gardens, a terrace overlooking the beautiful Northeast Harbor, and a fabulous dining room, this is the perfect place to enjoy an Acadian vacation. Whether you are strolling by the seaside, enjoying popovers with lashings of butter and jam, or relaxing in one of the 22 rooms, you will love every moment.
WHEN: Open year round
HOW: BOOK ASTICOU INN
READ MORE: If you are planning to go to Acadia, check out my Acadia National Park Guide
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
#25 LeConte Mountain Lodge
WHERE: Tennessee. Outside the park in the Gatlinburg area.
WHY: This is not to be confused with LeConte Lodge, which is the only lodge inside the national park. That lodge is a collection of rustic cabins that you need to hike to. LeConte Mountain Lodge, on the other hand, is a newly renovated luxury chalet that encapsulates quintessential national park inns’ comfort and design.
The 10-bedroom chalet has two decks and a dining room with enormous windows where you can enjoy sensational mountain views. There is also a spacious living room with gas fireplace, a pool table, a screened porch with rocking chairs and a hot tub.
WHEN: Late March to late November
READ MORE: There is more information about the park in my Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Petrified Forest National Park
(#26) Painted Desert Inn
WHERE: Arizona. The Painted Desert Inn is located in the northern section of the park, just off Route 66, which cuts through the park.
WHY: Technically this doesn’t belong in this post, because you can’t actually stay there – it is just a museum these days. But it’s so cool that I wanted to include it anyway. It’s definitely worth a visit.
The original 1920’s inn was built of petrified wood and other native stone. The current 1930’s renovation is built in gorgeous Pueblo Revival style with flat roofs and two-foot thick stone walls covered in stucco. It sits atop a mesa overlooking the colorful Painted Desert.
Today it’s a museum with displays on the building’s history, Route 66, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), as well as restored murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie.
WHEN: Open all year Monday-Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm every day except Christmas.
HOW: Admission is free after you pay the entrance fee to the national park. You can visit by yourself, but guided tours are available. Times vary from season to season.
How amazing are these inns and lodges?!
What’s your favorite US park lodging? Which of these great national park lodges would you love to stay in? Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know.
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James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents. He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.
He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.
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