Rustic charm in beautiful surroundings — what more could you ask for from national park lodging? How about a location with easy access to nearby attractions, rich history, and perhaps some tasty cuisine? That’s what our Best of National Park Lodging winners promise.
TravelAwaits readers voted in our Best of Travel Awards 2021 to help us determine everything from the best beaches to the best national parks. When you’re trying to decide where to stay for your next national park experience, check out our readers’ top picks below.
Since these national park lodgings are so popular, you’ll want to book as early as possible! Some of these hotels can book up a year in advance. It may even be necessary to be online at the exact time reservations open in some cases. However, some of the locations do offer discounts during the off-season.
Winner: Old Faithful Inn
Yellowstone National Park
When visiting the oldest national park in the country, you might as well stay at a National Historic Landmark. Entering the Old Faithful Inn, which dates to 1903, is like taking a step back in time. Guests rave about the architecture — in fact, the hotel is thought to be the largest log structure in the world!
As far as location goes, there’s no better place to stay in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful itself is just a 6-minute walk away. The hotel is also just a couple of miles away from Yellowstone’s Morning Glory Pool and the Kepler Cascades. Cozy up by the stone fireplace in the lobby after a long day of sightseeing or hiking. In addition to a well-reviewed restaurant, Old Faithful Inn features a lounge, snack bar, gift shop, and daily tours.
Finalist: El Tovar Hotel
Grand Canyon National Park
A bucket-list hotel stay! El Tovar allows you to take in the majesty of the Grand Canyon from your hotel room and as soon as you walk out the front door. Made of limestone and pine, this historic hotel opened on the South Rim in 1905. The landmark is a cross between a Norwegian villa and a Swiss chalet. No two of the hotel’s 78 rooms are alike.
Grab a coffee or nightcap and experience the spectacular quiet of sunrise, sunset, and late-night stargazing without the daytime crowds. They’re memories you’ll carry with you for a lifetime. When the day visitors leave, other residents, like elk, also come out to greet you.
El Tovar Dining Room, the hotel restaurant, serves wonderful cuisine influenced by the national park’s Southwestern location. Breakfast and lunch are casual, but dinner is a fine dining experience, so be sure to have the proper attire.
El Tovar is also a Xanterra property. If it’s booked, check out one of its three sister properties located next door on the rim: Bright Angel, Kachina, and Thunderbird Lodge.
Finalist: The Ahwahnee
Yosemite National Park
Dating to 1927, The Ahwahnee is a National Historic Landmark. This Yosemite National Park gem offers incredible views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls from the valley. It’s a pretty pricey place to stay, but you get what you pay for. With its massive vaulted ceiling, the dining room feels like a grand ballroom!
Combining luxury with lodge living, its stunning interior design also features stone fireplaces and stained glass windows. Get a taste of the views from the solarium here. Other highlights include a year-round heated outdoor pool, a gift shop featuring goods from local artisans, a sweet shop, and a bar.
Zion National Park Lodge
Zion National Park
Zion National Park Lodge is the only lodging within Zion National Park. Guests are surrounded by beautiful cliffs from the time they wake up until they go to sleep. Another Xanterra property, the lodge exudes rustic charm from the lobby to the rooms.
Enjoy dinner at Red Rock Grill after hiking Angels Landing, The Narrows, or any of the park’s well-known trails. In the evening, enjoy a glass of wine on your balcony while watching turkeys and deer stroll by the lodge.
One of the biggest benefits of staying here — in addition to everything above — is the parking. From March through November, most visitors must use a shuttle to enter the Scenic Drive area of the park. A reservation at Zion National Park Lodge guarantees you faster access to the park and a parking spot. Add to that a peaceful start and end to each day minus the daytime crowds, and you get a Zion National Park stay that is unequaled.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Glacier National Park
Located on its gorgeous namesake within Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald Lodge is also on the park’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Open seasonally from May through September, the property offers four lodging options. The Swiss chalet-style lodge contains the majority of the guest rooms. There are also cabins, three suites in the Cobb House, and dorm-like rooms located in Snyder Hall. All of the rustic accommodations are comfortable and fit in perfectly with the majestic surroundings of the park.
Staying at the lodge means you’ll be picked up right out front by one of Glacier National Park’s famous Red Bus Tours, if you choose. Horseback riding, boat tours, and guided hikes are also just steps away.
This getaway offers the opportunity to go offline — literally. Cell service doesn’t exist, wireless internet is limited, and some of the rooms don’t even have landlines. But that doesn’t stop the lodge from being a popular place to stay! Be prepared to be online the exact minute reservations open for the dates you want to travel — even then, you may need to be flexible.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Adjacent to the 3,600-acre Blue Ridge Parkway, Chetola Resort is nestled amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. If you can’t book one of the 42 rooms in the lodge overlooking Chetola Lake, the 78-acre resort is also home to a bed-and-breakfast-style inn as well as condos.
Housed in the historic Manor House at Chetola Resort, Timberlake’s has a menu inspired by renowned North Carolina artist Bob Timberlake. The restaurant features three comfortable dining rooms, an intimate wine room, and waterfront dining on the patio.
While the Blue Ridge Parkway offers excellent views of fall foliage, Chetola Resort becomes a truly magical winter wonderland of lights around the holidays.
Jenny Lake Lodge
Grand Teton National Park
About 35 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, Jenny Lake Lodge sits at the foot of the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park. This scenic AAA Four-Diamond resort dates to the 1920s. Three stunning glacial lakes are within walking distance of the lodge. Enjoy a leisurely 8-mile hike around the lake for which the lodge is named.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite National Park
Perhaps the most centrally located lodge for those visiting the Central Valley, Yosemite Valley Lodge is within walking distance of Yosemite Falls. Costs vary, but generally, this slightly less luxurious lodge is more affordable than its Yosemite National Park neighbor, The Ahwahnee. With nearly double the rooms, you may also be more likely to get a reservation here. The hotel’s wooden architecture fits in with its surroundings, while the giant windows allow for ample mountain scenery scoping.
Emerald Lake Lodge
Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Perched on its eponymous gem-hued glacial lake, Emerald Lake Lodge is secluded in the breathtaking Canadian Rockies of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. This hideaway is located about 30 miles from Lake Louise. Mount Field is just a short drive away, as is the Burgess Shale, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Cozy up by the stone fireplace after a long day of sightseeing. Posh rooms and suites feature upscale amenities such as private balconies with lake views, wood-burning fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs. Regional cuisine is served at the restaurant, paired with an award-winning wine list featuring more than 400 vinos.
The Stanley Hotel
Rocky Mountain National Park
Okay, so technically the historic Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park, Colorado, but it’s just a 10-minute drive from the breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park. Offering stunning views in every direction, the majestic mountains are not this hotel’s only claim to fame.
You see, a spooky stay in the Stanley Hotel’s Room 217 is what inspired Stephen King to pen his infamous horror novel, The Shining. Embracing this legacy, the Stanley now offers nightly ghost tours full of the hotel’s history. Brave guests can even stay on the supposedly haunted floor!