The National Park System manages 423 individual units, spanning more than 85 million acres across all 50 states. These sites include everything from national preserves and parkways to scenic riverways and battlefields. Of these, only 63 units have the elite designation of being recognized as a national park. Each year, these natural wonders attract a mind-boggling number of tourists. In 2019 (the most recent “normal” year), national park visitation topped 327 million, shattering multiple records along the way.
While some people want to rough it when exploring America’s national parks, others prefer a more comfortable getaway. Luckily, there’s no shortage of incredible national park lodges scattered throughout the park system. Whether you’re looking for a rustic respite or an over-the-top lodge, these properties flawlessly complement their stupefying surroundings. Here, five jaw-dropping national park lodges to add to your list.
Book a Jaw-Dropping Stay at the Most Epic National Park Lodges in America
1. Far View Lodge
Where to find it: Colorado
Mesa Verde National Park is a masterpiece 700 years in the making. For centuries, Ancestral Puebloans built thriving civilizations up in the cliffs and along the expansive mesas of the present-day park—making it the largest archaeological preserve in the country. More than 600 of these ancient dwellings still exist, but the colossal Cliff Palace is the most popular draw. The park was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
For truly spectacular vistas, book a stay at the Far View Lodge. It’s the only property located inside the park, sitting 8,250 feet above sea level and offering outlooks up to 100 feet in every direction (not to mention across four different states). Designed in the spirt of Mesa Verde, the 150-room retreat features authentic Kiva-inspired décor and locally sourced furniture and fixtures throughout.
2. Oasis at Death Valley
Where to find it: California
Straddling the California-Nevada border and covering more than 3.4 million acres, Death Valley National Park is a land of harsh extremes. Not only is it the largest national park in the contiguous U.S., but it also holds the record for being the hottest, driest, and lowest of all its fellow national parks. But despite its hellish name, Death Valley is actually bursting with life, marked by palm tree-shaded oases and providing refuge to plenty of native wildlife species.
The Oasis at Death Valley is home to two distinct hotel experiences: the lavish Four Diamond Inn at Death ValleyWhile some people want to rough it when exploring America’s national parks, others prefer a more comfortable getaway. Luckily, there’s no shortage of incredible national park lodges scattered throughout the park system. Whether you’re looking for a rustic respite or an over-the-top lodge, these properties flawlessly complement their stupefying surroundings. Here, five jaw-dropping escapes to add to your list. and the adventure-focused Ranch at Death Valley. Both properties recently underwent an extensive $100 million renovation and offer unforgettable experiences surrounded by the park’s soaring, jagged peaks. On-site experiences range from pampered spa treatments to the world’s lowest-elevation golf course, but the real fun can be found on their horseback tours, hiking excursions, and off-road Jeep adventures through Death Valley.
3. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa
Where to find it: Tennessee
There are plenty of reasons why Great Smoky National Park is America’s most-visited national park. This International Biosphere Reserve is world renowned for its diverse ecology, cascading waterfalls, sprawling spruce-fir forests, towering mountains, and winding trails—including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, which bisects the park.
The Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa is the only resort located within the national park’s borders. The rustic property boasts spacious villas with private balconies so guests can watch the sun sink below the Great Smokies each night. It’s also a perfect outpost for families, thanks to amenities like a mini golf course, zipline, and indoor waterpark. Plus, it’s just minutes from other popular area attractions, such as Dollywood and bustling downtown Gatlinburg.
4. Lake Quinault Lodge
Where to find it: Washington
Covering nearly a million acres, Olympic National Park is often referred to as “three parks in one” because it encompasses three distinct ecosystems: glacier-capped peaks, old-growth temperate rain forests, and more than 70 miles of wild Pacific coastline. The Quinault Valley is tucked away in the southwestern region of the park, teeming with alpine meadows, icy mountains, and crystal-clear lakes. It’s also home to the legendary Lake Quinault Lodge.
Built in 1926, the luxury five-star hotel was the vision of famed American architect Robert Reamer, who also designed Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful Inn. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lodge offers the only accommodations within the Quinault Rainforest. The rustic retreat sits on the shores of sparkling Lake Quinault, surrounded by imposing mountains. It’s purposefully void of modern distractions, like televisions and Wi-Fi, so guests can spend their days on one-of-a-kind guided nature tours or exploring the glacier-carved lake by canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or pontoon boat.
5. Sheldon Chalet
Where to find it: Alaska
When it comes to epic bucket list experiences, an authentic Alaskan adventure ranks pretty high up there. The Last Frontier is bursting at the seams with natural wonders, but Denali National Park and Preserve stands out as the crown jewel. A thrill-seeker’s dream destination, it includes more than six million acres comprising astounding landscapes that culminate at North America’s highest mountain peak. Those in search of the park’s most spectacular stay will find it at Sheldon Chalet—but it won’t come cheap.
The lavish eco-conscious chalet is situated on a private glacier outcropping, known as a nunatak, perched 6,000 feet above the Don Sheldon Amphitheater. Due to its remote location, the exclusive escape is only accessible by helicopter from Anchorage or Talkeetna. In addition to serving the most dramatic views in the Alaska Range, guests get access to curated activities including aurora borealis gazing, ice cavern explorations, powsurfing, back-country skiing, gourmet glacier picnics, heli geography tours, and more. Truly the trip of a lifetime, a visit will cost a pretty penny, starting at $47,000 per couple for a three-night minimum.