Get up close to the splendor of the USA’s majestic national parks.

Little more than a century ago, riding the rails to one of a grand lodge within a US national parks ranked among the most luxurious vacations you could take.

And while plenty of park accommodations remain exclusive – so much so that year-long wait-lists aren’t unheard of – the options have expanded considerably, from historic log-and-stone icons to new safari-inspired tented camps.

Still, for all the lodges’ variety, the very best have at least one thing in common. They offer unrivaled views of – and unparalleled access to – some of the greatest shows on Earth: spouting geysers, teeming wildlife, smoking calderas and countless other marvels.

Here are 12 of our favorite in-park lodges that provide an experience of these wonders like no other.

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The Jenny Lake Lodge patio in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Let nature restore you as you rest on the front patio of Jenny Lake Lodge © Wolfgang Kaehler / Avalon / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

1. Jenny Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Occupying another prime swath of Wyoming wilderness barely 30 miles from YellowstoneGrand Teton National Park packs in all manner of magic, from glittering rock spires to mirror-like glacial lakes. And the most famous one, Jenny Lake, is home to a beloved, eponymous lodge that’s tucked into a stand of spruce at the foot of the Tetons.

Having evolved from a 1920s dude ranch to a AAA Four Diamond eco-resort, Jenny Lake Lodge kits out its 37 old-timey cabins with everything from down comforters to heated floors. Check out the individual room categories for details, then book the Signature Stay for nightly five-course dinners (the kitchen here is famous for locally sourced specialties, award-winning wine selections and stunning Teton views); daily gourmet breakfasts; guided horseback rides (these fill up fast, so sign up ASAP); cruiser-style bikes; and other amusements and activities. And because of the lodge’s small scale, outsized reputation and limited season (June to early October), this is another one of those places with the possibility of year-long wait-lists – so get planning early.

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2. Under Canvas Bryce Canyon, Utah

About an hour from Zion sits another of Utah’s crown jewels: Bryce Canyon National Park, the sunset-hued hoodoo hotspot. And on a nearby plain – with views for days of red rocks and mountains – sits a recently opened outpost of glamping favorite Under Canvas. A solar-powered, safari-style camp with 50 tents, the resort offers plenty to do onsite, from yoga in the morning to campfires, s’mores and live music at night. But since any guest here is surrounded by amazing excursion possibilities, a resident “experience coordinator” will also help you plot your off-campus activities.

For starters, you’re on Bryce Canyon’s doorstep; whether you go out with a guide or on your own, you can hike, e-bike or drive through the park’s spire-filled dreamscape. Also within easy driving distance are Red Canyon (home to yet more hoodoos); Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument (a geologic wonderland spanning 1.87 million acres); and Widstoe (a little ghost town last populated – at least by the living – in the 1930s). At day’s end, stretch out on your meticulously appointed bed and, if you’ve booked a Stargazer tent, stare up at the dazzling display. Under Canvas books reservations from May until September.

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Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake Lodge offers sweeping vistas of its namesake lake © JeffGoulden / Getty Images

3. The Lodge at Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Overlooking the cerulean gleam of Oregon’s Crater Lake from the rim of the caldera, Crater Lake Lodge is one of the most dramatically positioned examples of Parkitecture. Below lies the nation’s deepest lake, and while you may not be able to see to the bottom (it’s 1943ft down), the water is astoundingly clear. Little wonder an eponymous national park and lodge were established here in 1902 and 1915, respectively.

You’ll still feel that bygone era in the lodge’s great hall – all rustic stone fireplaces and exposed beam ceilings – and in 71 TV-free rooms, many of which have lake views that rival anything you could see on a screen. For a closer look at the water, take the Cleetwood Cove Trail down to the shore and hop a boat (make sure the tours are on offer when you’re there), or brave a brisk dip (the surface temperature barely cracks 60°F). If you haven’t warmed back up by the time you reach the top of the trail, check out the sustainably sourced soups of the day at the lodge’s restaurant. It’s open from May to early October, as is the lodge itself.

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Wooden beams made from logs in the grand hall of Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Rustic architecture reaches new heights at the Old Faithful Inn © kellyvandellen

4. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A joint venture of the Yellowstone Park Association and the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Old Faithful Inn has welcomed guests to the heart of America’s first national park since 1904. Over the decades, the lodge has become renowned for not only its namesake geyser views, but also for its pioneering of a distinctly American architectural style. “Parkitecture” (also known as “National Park Service rustic”) relies heavily on local materials, hand-hewn finishes and an overall harmony with nature. And there could be no grander prototype than this inn, designed by architect Robert Reamer. One of the world’s largest log structures, it goes big on everything from lobby height (nearly 80ft) to fireplace materials (500 tons of rhyolite) to interior balconies (four levels’ worth).

The nearly 330 guest rooms, by contrast, range from cozy quarters with shared bathrooms to spacious suites. (Old Faithful Inn fills up fast for its May-October season, so book as early as possible.) Whatever room category you book, it won’t include A/C, wi-fi or TV. And you won’t mind one bit. 

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The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park
The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park © Courtesy of Aramark

5. The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

California’s most iconic national park is home to the almost as iconic Ahwahnee. This Yosemite Valley lodge – one of architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood’s Parkitecture standouts – has hosted everyone from Ansel Adams to Queen Elizabeth to Barack Obama since its 1927 debut. And as dazzled as visitors have always been by the centerpiece dining room, with its soaring ceilings, pine trestles, granite pillars and massive chandeliers, the views from its larger-than-life windows don’t hurt, either. In fact, without even leaving the hotel grounds, you can spy Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls.

Beyond the main lodge, where the 97 rooms range from standard to presidential (JFK stayed in the latter), you’ll find 24 cottages. You’ll also find internet access that’s unexpected in a national-park hotel so historic and secluded. But the only thing you’re likely to be doing online is posting shots from the Yosemite Falls Trail, Mirror Lake Loop and all the other stunning hikes you’ll be doing. The hotel is open year-round.

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Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole
Stunning views from the balconies of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole © Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole

6. Four Seasons Resort and Residences, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Sitting at the gateway to Grand Teton and tempting guests with a full roster of excursions in both that park and neighboring Yellowstone, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole offers luxury between the two iconic parks. And while the local wildlife-viewing opportunities in these parts are the stuff of legend – as you might expect along a superhighway for elks, bisons, moose and bears – the resort offers an adventure in September that’s unequivocally bucket-list-y: a Day with the Wolves.

A private “flightseeing” trip will serve as the appetizer (think aerial views of Old Faithful) before touch-down at Yellowstone, where an expert guide will school you in the history and behavior of local gray wolves before you set out to find them. For all their elusiveness, these remarkable creatures were hunted down and eliminated from Yellowstone in the 1920s, then reintroduced in the ’90s. With the population growing but fragile, a portion of each trip’s proceeds will go to continued conservation efforts.

Back at the mothership, you’ll find the same level of luxury that you would at any of the storied brand’s outposts. In Jackson Hole, that means everything from marble bathrooms to celebrity-chef partnerships to seasonal ski concierges. You read that last bit correctly: the nearly 160-room resort stays open all winter (and year-round), a distinct local advantage.

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An overview of the pool at The Ranch at Death Valley, California
The Ranch at Death Valley’s pools provide escape from Death Valley’s scorching summer heat  © Xanterra Travel Collection

7. Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley National Park, California

First opened in 1927 as the Furnace Creek Inn, this enclave hosted the Hollywood A-list from the outset, with studios booking rooms here for desert film shoots, and stars then returning for fun – and seclusion. (Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent a portion of their honeymoon at the inn.) The property has since morphed considerably, expanding to include a second hotel – the Ranch at Death Valley – plus the world’s lowest-elevation golf course, at 214ft below sea level.

After falling into disrepair, the complex has recently undergone an epic renovation (complete with 22 new casitas, 80 new cottages and 224 refreshed rooms) and is now the AAA Four Diamond Oasis at Death Valley. Note that the “oasis” part isn’t figurative: amid the surreal salt flats and rock formations of Death Valley National Park, the property sits on an actual oasis, with 80,000+ gallons of water rising to the surface daily.

While you can stay here year-round, you may not want to stray much farther than the swimming pools in summer, Death Valley being the hottest place on Earth. Come fall, once temperatures drop into the 60s and 70s, the biking, hiking and horseback riding trails call. Each desert adventure is its own reward, of course – but hitting the new spa once you’re back at the Oasis is a nice bonus.

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El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
El Tovar Hotel is perched spectacularly on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon © Linda Harms / Shutterstock

8. El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Albert Einstein slept here. So did Teddy Roosevelt. And Oprah. Indeed, the Grand Canyon’s longest-operating hotel (not even a mile from the Maswik Lodge) has drawn boldface names since its opening day. Debuting in 1905 as another of Fred Harvey’s famed properties, El Tovar aimed to lure high society with lodgings that fell somewhere between Swiss chalet and Norwegian villa. And whether it was the Europhile design – or the hotel’s placement right on the rim of the canyon – something clearly worked.

Countless visiting dignitaries have since checked into the Presidential Suite (including several actual presidents). Another longstanding favorite is the Zane Grey Suite, a memorabilia-filled ode to the legendary Western novelist who honeymooned at the hotel in 1906 that includes a balcony looking out onto the historic Hopi House (with bonus views of the Grand Canyon, of course). Beyond these 78 unique rooms and suites, El Tovar also offers up plenty of adventure. Just don’t return to the hotel famished from hiking or rafting without a table at El Tovar Dining Room. Reservations are required at lunch and dinner – and you’ll see why, given the number of day-trippers who likely had the same idea. The good news for everyone is that the restaurant, and the hotel, are open year-round.

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Low-angle view of tourists relaxing on the lawn of Zion Lodge at Zion National Park, Utah, USA
A stay at Zion Lodge gets you prime views of Zion National Park’s rock formations at all times of day © Robb Lanum / iStockphoto / Getty Images

9. Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park’s only in-park lodge was commissioned by the Union Pacific Railroad and designed by Parkitecture giant Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the mid-1920s. Though a fire destroyed the main building in 1966, many of the surrounding cabins survived; the restored central structure nods to the original design. 

While this is the rare historic park lodge that comes with wi-fi and TVs in its 81 rooms and suites (though the 40 cabins have neither), screen time probably won’t figure prominently into your stay here, given what’s right outside. A hiker’s paradise packed with red rocks, slot canyons and tiered waterfalls, Zion offers such iconic excursions as Angel’s Landing. If you’re looking for something that requires less stamina and adrenaline, consider the scenic drive that cuts through the main section of Zion Canyon and lets you access the trails that run along the Virgin River (the same river that leads to the otherworldly Emerald Pools). Post-adventure, head to the Red Rock Grill, where anything you order will be paired with stellar canyon views, especially from  the deck. Both the grill and the lodge are open year-round.

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A room at Volcano House with a view of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, USA
Wake up to a view of ever-shifting volcanic plumes at historic Volcano House in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park © Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock

10. Volcano House, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

This historic caldera-rim hotel (its street address is literally 1 Crater Rim Dr) overlooks the Kilauea Caldera at the summit of the youngest and most active shield volcano in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. So it’s perfectly placed for guests to take in mesmerizing and ever-shifting plumes emanating from the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, the main geologic feature you’ll see if you book a Volcano Crater View or Deluxe Crater View room from among the 33 rooms (total) on offer here. The panorama is particularly dramatic from the hotel’s Rim Restaurant, where the tables by floor-to-ceiling windows are a sunset hotspot. Another is Uncle George’s Lounge, named for George Lycurgus, who acquired the original mid-19th-century Volcano House in 1895.

Since then, the hotel has evolved almost as consistently as the volatile landscape it overlooks. A lava-rock fireplace is one of several historic touches you can find throughout the property; modern additions include in-room wi-fi and sound machines. Of course, the main draw is what lies outside your front door: among other standouts, the surrounding national park is home to Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano.

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11. Maswik Lodge South, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park’s first new lodging in more than 50 years, Maswik Lodge South is a 120-room reimagining of a 1970s predecessor. But the aesthetic here harkens back to an even earlier time, when the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad opened a motor lodge on the site in 1927. Though the new complex has modern interiors with everything from A/C to satellite TV, the reintegrated original stone pillars lend a sense of history, while the surrounding ponderosa pine forest lends a sense of place – one that’s particularly fragrant from your private patio.

Guests here enjoy all the services of nearby Maswik Lodge – and you’ll want to check in at the Transportation & Activities Desk, where the team will help you book a full range of Grand Canyon options, from rafting to mule riding to historic-train touring. Also accessible at the main lodge is the all-important food court, where you can refuel on pot pies, mac ’n’ cheese and other hearty favorites. The restaurants, like the lodge, are open year-round.

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The view from Many Glacier Hotel of Glacier National Park
Many Glacier Hotel overlooks pristine Swiftcurrent Lake, the deepest one in the USA © Xanterra Travel Collection

12. Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana

Another Swiss chalet–inspired and railway-funded paragon of Parkitecture, the Many Glacier Hotel opened on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake in 1915 and quickly became known as “the gem of the West.” The structure is unquestionably grand, particularly the four-story, vaulted-ceilinged lobby with interior balconies and a helical staircase (the latter a replica of the original). Its remote location – far from the well-trodden Going-to-the-Sun Road – only adds to the appeal.

In this stunning swath of Glacier National Park, there’s so much to see and do that the absence of TVs and wi-fi in the 214 guest rooms won’t matter. The short list of local adventures includes kayak trips, horseback rides, lake cruises, hikes to glaciers and tours on the park’s famed Red Buses. Book at least one meal at the Ptarmigan Dining Room, where microbrews and craft cocktails pair beautifully with the peak-filled panorama. The restaurant, like the hotel, is open from June to mid-September.

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This article was first published Feb 16, 2022 and updated Apr 22, 2024.

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