After watching an amazing sunset in a national park, the last thing you want to do is drive miles in the dark back to your hotel. Instead, imagine waking up to Old Faithful erupting or ending your day by stargazing at the Grand Canyon. These exclusive hotels located inside national parks will make any vacation extra special.
Just be warned, since lodging within the bounds of national parks is limited, many accommodation options sell out early, so you may have to book up to a year in advance to snag a room. Spontaneous travelers may have luck with last-minute cancellations, so it doesn’t hurt to call the hotel the night before or in the morning if you’re already in the area.
Inn at Death Valley, Death Valley National Park
The Inn at Death Valley appears like an oasis in the desert as you drive through Death Valley National Park. Towering palm trees surround a glimmering spring-fed pool that beckons to hot and dusty travelers.
The AAA four-diamond-rated resort is one of the most luxurious places to stay in the national parks. Built in 1927, the hotel was a famous vacation spot for celebrities, including Marlon Brando and Clark Gable. Following a recent $155 million renovation, the resort maintains its old-school glamor while adding modern amenities.
Death Valley National Park is the largest Dark Sky National Park in the United States. Inn guests can catch the nightly astrological show from the stargazing roof deck (designed to minimize light pollution).
Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon National Park
You can’t buy your way into the most exclusive hotel in the national parks—the only way to score a room at Phantom Ranch is by winning the monthly lottery (or by getting lucky and snagging a last-minute cancellation spot). As the only hotel inside the Grand Canyon, the hotel’s popularity is understandable. And yes, we do mean inside the canyon itself not inside the park—Phantom Ranch occupies an exclusive location on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
Accommodations are rustic, featuring a bunk in a shared dorm (dorms are currently unavailable due to construction) or private cabins. Pack lightly, as there are just two ways to get to Phantom Ranch: on foot or via mule. You’ll be rewarded for the journey with something few people experience: a night sleeping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park
Imagine watching Old Faithful erupt from the comfort of your bed—book a geyser basin view room at the Old Faithful Inn for a mind-blowing stay. This charming hotel, built in 1903 out of local logs and stone, is one of the largest log-style structures in the world.
If you’re on a budget but still want to be close to all the action, the Inn offers affordable hotel rooms with shared bathrooms (unfortunately, you won’t get geyser views from these rooms).
Volcano House, Volcanoes National Park
Perched on the rim of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Volcano House offers incredible views of the caldera and Halema’uma’u crater. The boutique hotel features just 33 guest rooms, so you must book early to secure a reservation.
If you’re not lucky enough to score a room at the Volcano House, be sure to stop by for a meal in the hotel’s restaurant, where you can enjoy local cuisine while gazing out floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the rim.
Ross Lake Resort, North Cascades National Park
Let the waves lull you to sleep in one of 15 floating cabins at the Ross Lake Resort. Built atop log floats in one of the most scenic spots in the North Cascades National Park, the resort is only accessible via boat—so you’ll practically be guaranteed peace and quiet.
The small resort books up quickly, but there is a waitlist you can join if you can’t find a reservation.
Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park
Set on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside Glacier National Park, the star attraction at Many Glacier Hotel is the views. Partially renovated in 2016, the rustic five-story hotel offers a variety of accommodation options, including suites and family rooms, but no air conditioning or television.
The hotel’s picturesque Ptarmigan Dining Room is a popular spot for non-guests to take a break while admiring Glacier’s scenery.
Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park
Set on the edge of the caldera, nearly 1,000 feet above the water, Crater Lake Lodge offers majestic views of the deepest lake in the United States. Lake-view rooms are coveted, and reservations can be booked starting a year in advance (and generally fill up immediately!)
Like most hotels within the national parks, Crater Lake Lodge is open seasonally from mid-May through mid-October.
Ultima Thule Lodge, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park
Checking into Ultima Thule Lodge involves a commercial flight to Anchorage, followed by a charter plane to McCarthy, where you’ll be met by the resort’s private plane for your third and final flight. The long journey is worth it, as you’ll land in a pristine wilderness area untouched by roads or maintained trails.
The lodge is the perfect base camp to explore Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, the largest and least-visited national park in the United States.
The Awahnee, Yosemite National Park
The grand elegance of The Awahnee makes sense when you learn that the hotel was built in the 1920s under the hopes that it would draw more affluent visitors to visit Yosemite National Park. No expense was spared, and the property was constructed out of more than 5,000 tons of stone and 30,000 feet of lumber to create a building that seamlessly blends in with the national surroundings.
For a royally indulgent vacation, book the Mary Curry Tresidder Suite, where Queen Elizabeth stayed on her trip to the park in the 1980s.
Triangle X Ranch, Grand Teton National Park
Live out your cowboy dreams at Triangle X Ranch, the National Park System’s only dude ranch. Located inside Grand Teton National Park, this family-owned ranch offers float trips, guided fishing trips, and of course, horseback riding—all set against a majestic mountain range backdrop.
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