There’s really no bad way to see America’s greatest national parks. Even if you only have two or three hours to drive through Yellowstone or Yosemite or Grand Teton, you’ll take home lasting memories. But it’s hard to beat spending the night in one of the historic lodges in these parks. Some of the most famous national park lodges just celebrated their 100th anniversary, yet they are as popular as ever, usually sold out many months in advance. If you can’t find a room for the coming spring and summer in the below locations, at least they’ll be on your radar for the future.
5. Crater Lake Lodge
Crater Lake National Park
Season: Mid-May through mid-October
Rates: (2017): $190-$329
Built on the rim of this pristine volcanic lake, Crater Lake Lodge overlooks the surreal blue waters 1,000 feet below. Although it opened in 1915, the hotel had deteriorated to the point it had to be almost totally rebuilt in the early 1990s. The lodge has 71 rooms, and while they’re rustic — some do not have a shower — just take a look at that view of the lake. A check as of this writing showed rooms available throughout September and October.
4. Many Glacier Hotel
Glacier National Park
Season: Mid-June to mid-September
Rates: (2017): $186-$528
This hotel celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2015, and was extensively renovated in 2016. But the operators have tried to maintain its historic and rustic nature in many ways. For example, there are no TVs in the guest rooms (there is, however, limited WiFi in the lodge). You will definitely want to spend the extra money for a lakeside room overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake.
3. Jackson Lake Lodge
Grand Teton National Park
Season: Mid-May to mid-October
In addition to the lodge’s 385 rooms, there are several restaurants, shops and a heated outdoor pool. The views of the Grand Tetons through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby are stunning. No stay is complete without a meal in the Mural Room, featuring fine Rocky Mountain-style cuisine great views of the Tetons. Need further convincing this place is worth a stay? Check out the virtual tour of the facility and its grounds on the lodge website.
2. Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Yosemite National Park
Season: Open year-round
Rates: (2017): $480-$873*
* Based on TripAdvisor.com
Like the awe-inspiring natural wonders of its Yosemite Valley surroundings, this structure is an impressive architectural mix of granite, steel, timber and glass. The hotel is much better known by its historic name, Ahwahnee Hotel; the government renamed it in 2016 to settle a copyright dispute with the former hotel operator. It’s open year-round, which gives you a better chance of finding a room, although peak-season vacancies disappear well in advance. And if there is one common complaint about this hotel, it’s the prices; the room rates and in-house dining are not cheap. But think about it —where else can you get a view of Half Dome and other Yosemite wonders from your hotel? As one TripAdvisor.com reviewer sagely noted, it’s a “3-star room in a 7-star location.”
1. Old Faithful Inn
Yellowstone National Park
Season: Early May to mid-October
Rates: (2017): $294-$590
Overlooking the world-famous Old Faithful geyser, this structure is likely the largest log building in the world. One look at the soaring lobby with its 85-foot stone fireplace and you won’t question that distinction. As with the other lodges in this story — and most hotels, in general — spending a little more gets you nicer accommodations. You’ll want one of the rooms with a view of the geyser basin, of course, and most people these days prefer a private bathroom to a shared bathroom. Reservations are generally taken a year in advance for this popular destination.