It’s officially travel season, which means millions of Americans from all over will be headed to the country’s national parks to see some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. The National Park Service has seen a record number of visitors at parks the past few years, and this summer you can expect big attendance numbers at popular parks like the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone.
There's also no better time to support our national parks. The National Park Service views itself as a place for education, a "laboratory" for good science and for "educating the public about how climate change affects us by impacting places we care about."
To help you plan a potential vacation to these truly gorgeous places—you can also support the parks in other ways—we've rounded up hotels and resorts near nine of America’s most beloved parks. It’s true that some visitors camp or backpack on the plethora of park trails. But most park-goers see nature’s wonders from the comfort of their car and return to a hotel or lodge at night, although it’s good to book as early as possible since hotels full up quickly.
We’ve chosen an array of top-notch lodging options from which to base your explorations, with an emphasis on unique architecture and proximity to the park. From seaside cabins to grand lodges built on the edge of the Grand Canyon, there’s something for everyone. Behold, the absolute best places to stay near America’s most beautiful national parks.
1. If you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park...
The most popular national park in Colorado is also one of the nation’s busiest, but don’t let that deter you from exploring Rocky Mountain’s abundant hiking. From taking the easy walk to Sprague Lake to admiring some of the 60 mountains that are taller than 12,000 feet, this park provides gorgeous scenery just two hours from Denver.
Stay at the Stanley Hotel.
Located in Estes Park, Colorado approximately five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the 140-room, Colonial Revival Stanley Hotel was originally built in 1909. Allegedly haunted and best known today for its inspirational role in Stephen King’s novel, "The Shining," the family-friendly Stanley provides gorgeous views and plenty of antique kitsch.
2. If you’re visiting Glacier National Park...
Called the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park in Montana is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay. It’s also simply stunning. Don’t miss the quintessential Going-to-the-Sun Road that connects the east and west sides of the park, and other top spots like Lake McDonald and Many Glacier.
Stay at the Snow Bear Chalets.
If your idea of a great vacation includes both restaurants and unique architecture, consider Snow Bear Chalets near Whitefish, Montana. Located about 25 miles from Glacier National Park, the chalets are tree houses standing tall in the forest.
With easy access to hiking and mountain biking on your doorstep, restaurants ten minutes down the hill in the town of Whitefish, and the national park an easy drive away for day trips, the luxury chalets provide an ideal getaway. Read more over here, or check out their sister property—a four bedroom house on the west side of Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park.
3. If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon...
As one of the most popular national parks in the United States, most Americans recognize the Grand Canyon’s steep walls and otherworldly coloring. If you’re looking for photo opportunities, head to the South Kaibab Trail in Arizona on the south rim. It follows a ridge out to Skeleton Point and earns you 360-degree views of the canyon.
Stay at El Tovar.
The Charles Whittlesley-designed El Tovar Hotel was built in 1905 and is located directly on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. While it’s no longer the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi, the 78-room El Tovar is one of the prettiest of the national park lodges and serves as a top-notch base to explore the park.
4. If you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountains...
The Great Smoky Mountains offers an abundance of hikes, wildlife, and rivers and is the most visited park in America. Located along the Tennessee and North Carolina border, this part of the Appalachian Mountains provides jaw-dropping vistas and a photogenic morning fog that gives the region its nickname.
Stay at Blackberry Farm.
Blackberry Farm sits at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee and lives up to its name: the hotel offers up seasonal produce, an on-site creamery, a bakery, and a charcuterie program. With an award-winning dining program and on-point accommodations, Blackberry Farm provides a luxurious base to explore the nearby national park.
5. If you’re visiting Yosemite National Park...
Protected since 1864, Yosemite is best known for countless number of waterfalls in its nearly 1,200 square miles. But you’ll also find picturesque valleys, expansive meadows, and giant sequoias. As one of our prettiest parks in the country, Yosemite never disappoints.
Stay at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Formerly called the Ahwahnee, the Majestic is located inside the national park on the valley floor and has been serving park visitors since 1927. It’s Yosemite’s only AAA® Four-Diamond hotel and boasts views of Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls. Don’t miss the year-round heated outdoor pool, the solarium, and the afternoon tea service.
6. If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park:
The world’s first national park is also one of its most unusual; colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers can make visitors feel like they are on another planet, not in Wyoming. But all the crowds of people visiting Yellowstone are on to something. If you can brave the numbers, this is one of the best parks around.
Stay at the Old Faithful Inn.
Sure, some aspects of the 327-room Old Faithful Inn need a bit of updating. But there’s a reason this national historic landmark located inside Yellowstone is the park’s most requested lodging facility: The 1904 structure is considered the largest log structure in the world and set the standard for national park architecture. Throw in the massive stone fireplace and ideal park location, and the Old Faithful is an easy choice.
7. If you’re visiting Zion National Park...
While other national parks are full of pine forests or massive redwoods, Zion National Park is unique. Massive sandstone cliffs rise from the base of valleys and paint the landscape in pinks, oranges, and red. Explore the narrow slot canyons and marvel at just how blue the skies look in the Utah landscape.
Stay at Zion Lodge.
Serving as the only in-park lodging in Zion, Zion Lodge was designed in 1924 and maintains its rustic quality. But the location in Zion is first rate; the canyon’s gorgeous views surround the lodge, trailheads aren’t far, and guests are allowed to drive their cars into the park year-round.
8. If you’re visiting Olympic National Park:
Olympic Park just might be one of the most diverse national parks in the country, especially given its vast size. The park boasts nearly a million acres in Washington state ranging from glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate forests, and 70 miles of photo-worthy coastline.
Stay at the Kalaloch Lodge.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, you can’t beat Kalaloch Lodge. It’s the only coastal lodge along a 73-mile stretch of Olympic National Park, lacks Wi-Fi access, and sits on a remote bluff overlooking the ocean. Comb the beach for seashells and be on the lookout for 30-foot gray whales every March and April.
9. If you’re visiting Grand Teton National Park...
With some of the most impressive alpine views in the country, Grand Teton isn’t lacking beauty. Lakes sit at the base of the mountains and the Snake River provides a gorgeous backdrop for fishing or a lazy float trip. Don’t miss the sunsets, when the entire sky comes alive.
Stay at Jenny Lake Lodge.
Located inside of Grand Teton National Park and not far from the base of the Teton Range, Jenny Lake Lodge is close to its namesake lake and charming as can be. As the only 4-diamond "eco-resort" in the park, Jenny Lake Lodge also offers both delicious dining and an ideal base to explore everything the Grand Tetons have to offer.
10. If you’re visiting Acadia National Park...
Home to the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, the 35,000-acre Acadia National Park is the perfect stopover for those looking to explore Maine’s rugged seaboard. Try exploring the granite peaks and or take the opportunity to bike on the park’s old carriage roads.
Stay at the Bar Harbor Inn.
There are no hotels or lodges in Acadia National Park, but the small towns near the park offer a wide range of hotels and places to stay. Our pick is the Bar Harbor Inn, a waterfront hotel that overlooks Frenchman Bay and provides easy access to Acadia. Upscale amenities like a pool, terrace, and gas fireplaces make the nineteenth century hotel a luxurious spot to relax after a day of hiking.