If you've ever been to any National Park, or even seen pictures of them, you're probably familiar with "parkitecture". That's the clever name that's been assigned to the style that many facilities within the parks have. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me paint you a picture: think lots of native wood and stone, big fireplaces, old-school dining rooms, big windows to frame incredible views, handmade furnishings, etc. The decidedly rustic style combines elements of the Arts and Crafts movement and Picturesque architecture. While most take an almost Adirondack-esque form, the desert parks often use adobe and Santa Fe style architecture to blend into the setting. While these buildings feel very natural, it was a conscious choice by the NPS to create facilities that enhanced (or, at the very least, didn't disturb) the natural setting... that's what people come to parks to experience, after all.
Opened in 1915 and totally redone in the 1990s, Crater Lake Lodge offers the classically rustic accommodations found at most National Parks-run hotels. You won't find phones or TVs in your room, but you won't miss them once you get comfy in the 1920s-esque lodge. Even if you aren't planning to spend the night here, you can explore the Great Hall and the exhibit on the Lodge's history, and even grab a meal at the dining room; they offer Northwest-inspired cuisine and a view overlooking the lake!
Mount Rainier National Park's iconic lodge is the Paradise Inn. It was built in 1919 and has all the rustic, vintage charm you could ever want. From the massive fireplace to floral light fixtures in the lobby it feels a bit like stepping back to a simpler time. The lack of Wifi and TVs doesn't hurt, either. If you need a quick meal or just want to stock up on souvenirs, they have a cafe and gift shop onsite as well.
Lake Quinault Lodge at Olympic National Park is a grand lodge that was built in 1926, and not a ton has changed since then, which is a good thing. Located on Lake Quinault (naturally), a stay here means you'll have a chance to rent boats and paddleboards, or find a nearby hike to take during the day, and then at night, you can grab dinner in the historic Roosevelt Dining Room, and then relax by their massive fireplace. Olympic is also home to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which is a bit less hidden gem-y than this spot, but they're both different and lovely ways to experience the lush park.
Imagine waking up, stepping out onto your porch and being instantly greeted with the best view in all of North Cascades National Park-- that's what you'll get at Ross Lake Resort, because in these picturesque floating cabins, your backyard is the lake itself, surrounded by snowcapped mountain peaks and lush evergreen forests. Literally every cabin has a stunning view. The resort is pretty remote-- it's best accessed by water taxi or ferry unless you want to take a mile-long hike with all your luggage-- so your view of the lake, mountains and forests will be virtually undisturbed. Plus, since cell service and internet is spotty up there, it's a great place to go to disconnect. You can spend your days fishing, hiking, boating (bring your own or rent one of theirs!), or simply by sitting on the dock and soaking in the breathtaking beauty, which you likely won't tire of.
Visitors can find tons spots in Glacier National Park that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Lodges and hotels, often in the Swiss chalet-style commonly seen in the Alps (since Glacier, with its snow-capped mountain peaks, was known as America's Alps to early tourists), began popping up across the park. Many, like Belton Chalet, are still operational. In many ways, a stay here is a trip back in time (the classic decor and the fact that rooms don't have TVs really add to the old-school vibes) but it makes up for everything with its charm. Plus, the convenience of staying in the park is undeniable.
Designed by Robert Reamer, the Old Faithful Inn was built in waves, starting with the Old House that makes up the lobby and guest rooms. In the center of the seven story tall gabled lobby is an unforgettable 500-ton, 85-foot tall stone fireplace that reaches up the hight of the building and looks like something right out of "Game of Thrones." The Inn is, for obvious reasons, the most requested lodging in Yellowstone National Park and the 327 rooms are open for booking from early May until mid-October. The Old Faithful Inn also offers daily tours for anyone not wanting to cough up the dough, but who still want to see inside the awesome nationally historic building. It's one of America's most iconic hotels so if you do have the chance to spend the night while visiting Yellowstone National Park, it's absolutely worth it! The best time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park: There's really no bad time to visit Yellowstone. During the winter, some roads and lodges close, but the park is no less beautiful covered in snow, and it's nice to kind of have the place to yourself. Spring and fall mean beautiful colors, and summer is, of course, always incredibly popular. But, if you plan to visit between May and September, make sure to plan and book everything well in advance.
Grand Teton National Park used to be filled with dude ranches, but today Triangle X Ranch is the only remaining ranch inside the park. That means it's gonna be the most authentic one around. They offers accommodations in adorable rustic cabins, meals are included in your stay, and they plan excursions for their guests, like fly fishing trips, horseback riding lessons and tours, river floats, and much more.
While visiting Mesa Verde, you can bask in adobe beauty at Far View Lodge. It's a National Park Service lodge within the boundaries of Mesa Verde, so it's got that classic, retro lodge charm, plus there's an onsite restaurant and cocktail lounge. Pro tip: ask for a room with a balcony and a view, the best reason to stay in the park is the incredible scenery.
Petrified Forest is now a day-use park only, but it's home to the famous Painted Desert Inn. Even though you can't spend the night here anymore, you should definitely stop in to check out the exhibits on the building; it was originally built of petrified wood, but was given an awesome rustic makeover in the 1930's. Since old Route 66 cuts directly through Petrified Forest, this hotel was once an iconic spot to spend a night on the road. It also displays works from the park's resident artist program as well!
Bryce Canyon Lodge is the NPS-run hotel within the Bryce Canyon National Park. This National Historic Landmark is super conveniently located and features stunning, 1920s-rustic lodge style decor. They offer suites within the main building, a motor lodge, and luxurious, historic pole-pine cabins. There's even a nice dining room with food onsite, one of the better dining options inside the park!
The original Zion Lodge, which was built in the 1920s, right at the peak of parkitecture, was destroyed by a fire in the 1960s. It was rebuilt, but in a more modern style that was not exactly rustic... but thankfully, in the 1990s, a restoration brought back the original lodge-style exterior. It's got a prime location, set right against towering sandstone cliffs. It offers both historic cabins and hotel rooms, most of which offer private balconies or porches. Also, unlike many parks, these rooms have TVs!
El Tovar Hotel and Yavapai Lodge are the obvious choices for accommodations in the Grand Canyon, and while they're both equally awesome in their own ways, Phantom Ranch is special. You'll have to hike or ride a mule down to the bottom of the canyon to reach the uber-exclusive hostel, and once you're there, you'll probably be staying in dorm-style accommodations and eating whatever food is available there. But there's a reason this place is perpetually booked solid: it's the only place to stay inside the canyon, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience: almost like summer camp!
If you're going for the authentic National Parks experience while in stunning Sequoia National Park, then you'll want to stay in the Wuksachi Lodge. You get the rustic atmosphere that National Parks lodges often have, with the cedar logs, stone fireplaces, and picture-perfect views, but they also have wifi and a cocktail lounge and all the stuff you want from a classy resort. Plus, the convenience of staying inside the park is pretty appealing!
The Wawona Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1876, and it remains one of the coolest places to stay in Yosemite. Although it doesn't look quite that old, it's steeped in history. Enjoy the wraparound porch (ask for a room with veranda access!), Victorian parlor with a fireplace, and dark and romantic dining room, but be prepared for relatively old-school accommodations. That means limited Wifi.
YOSEMITE BONUS: The Ahwahnee Hotel is legendary, and we can't leave it off the list. Its history and design are among the most interesting of all the National Parks lodges-- and looking at the beautiful, historic building, it's hard to believe that it had humble beginnings... as a small tent village! Back in the early 20th century, an enterprising couple David and Jennie Curry decided to take a little vacation to the Yosemite Valley. Luckily for them, they were schoolteachers who had experience leading camping tours through Yellowstone, and they were able to offset the cost of their trip by leading guests through Yosemite as well. Their first tour was such a wild success that they set up a permanent campsite, hired a cook to feed their guests, and began promoting the crap out of their business, which they called Camp Curry. Their daughter Mary's husband, Donald Tresidder eventually helped take over running the camp. In 1925, the National Park Service decided to grant control of the food, lodging and concessions in the park to one company-- and rather than duke it out with their rival company, the Yosmite Park Company, Camp Curry decided to merge with them and the new company began to work to improve the park's concessions. In 1926, it was decided that a new grand hotel was needed to attract tourists to the park year round, and thus the Ahwahnee (which got its name from the park's native moniker) was born.
Just a Civil War beard enthusiast, writer at Roadtrippers, and aspiring astronaut reaching for the stars.