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  • Writer's pictureWomen's Adventure Travels

Top Iconic US National Park Lodges to Visit

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

If still looking to have otherworldly travel experiences this summer and beyond, consider stepping back in time and off the beaten path by staying in these iconic luxury lodge spots.

They are all rich in history, boasting beautiful views, and provide unrivaled access to our national treasures, otherwise known as our US National Parks.

The Ahwahnee Lodge - Yosemite National Park

Built in 1927 and previously named the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, this luxurious resort has been Yosemite National Park's top lodge option for 90 years. The Ahwahnee's allure extends beyond the park as it's long been known as the premier lodge within the National Park Service system in the US.

Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood set the iconic tone with Ahwahnee's 34-foot-high high beamed ceilings, which soar above the floor-to-ceiling windows that beautifully showcase the beauty of the park and the surroundings. He designed a property that would afford guests that bird's eye views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point, the iconic spots surrounding the lodge in Yosemite Valley.

Design influences include Art Deco to Native American, Middle Eastern, and the Arts & Crafts Movement. This is seen in the striking granite facade, the magnificent log-beamed ceilings, the massive stone hearths, and richly colored Native American artwork.

El Tovar Hotel - The Grand Canyon National Park

Living on the edge is a real thing when staying at the El Tovar Hotel. The lodge is but a few steps away from the very edge of the south rim in the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Built in 1905 from local limestone and Oregon pine, Chicago architect Charles Whittlesey struck the rustic balance between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa.

The ambiance throughout the property is rustic chic with a Native American ambiance. The murals on the walls reflect the customs of four Native American Tribes – the Hopi, the Apache, the Mojave, and the Navajo. The fans expand from early visits by Teddy Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt and Albert together with more recent luminaries President Bill Clinton, Sir Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey.

It's no wonder the Grand Canyon's top property is known as the "crown jewel" of Historical National Park lodges.

Paradise Inn - Mount Rainier National Park

A part of the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District, The Paradise Inn, is named after Paradise, the mountain area in which it is located. The main draw to this historic yet straightforward property is its proximity to the rugged trails beyond its doors s. The Inn is where many climbers start their ascent of the iconic mountain.

Set on the south slope of Mount Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, The Inn's build started in 1916 and is Washingtonian to its core. The architecture is simple and has barely changed since its opening in 1920. Modern amenities have remained mostly elusive on-site, which only adds to the Inn's charm. If looking to get off the grid, this is your ticket.

Big Meadows Lodge - Shenandoah National Park

Mile 51 of the famous Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia marks the spot of Big Meadows Lodge. In the park's central section and right off Skyline Drive, its location is pitch-perfect for exploring the surrounding trails and notorious overlooks.

The main lodge was built in 1939 with stones cut from Massanutten Mountain. Native oak and chestnut were used throughout to make the lodge's interior structure and paneling. T

The lack of in-room phones and Wi-Fi adds to the rustic charm. It makes it a great escape after a long day of exploring Shenandoah.

Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park

This historic lodge is located within view of the world-famous Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone's National Park, Wyoming. The oldest national park is home to the most iconic lodge of all national park lodges, the Old Faithful Inn.

The Inn has you at hello in the lobby with its multi-story log lobby, flanked by long frame wings, which contain guest rooms.

In addition to its proximity to the Old Faithful Geyser, Crested Pool and Castle Geyser are within walking distance of the lodge. Because of these stunning views and surroundings, it is the most requested lodging facility in Yellowstone and is part of the National Historic Landmark Program. The American Institute of Architects awarded Old Faithful Inn 36 out of 150 as its favorite buildings in America.

Coolidge, Harding, and Roosevelt are but a few politicos that have laid their pampered heads in the house.

Crater Lake Lodge - Crater Lake National Park

Initially built in 1915, the Crater Lake Lodge, located on the southwest rim of the Crater Lake caldera overlooking the lake is owned by the National Park Service and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The initial goal in construction was to design a roof that could withstand heavy snowfall eight months out of the year.

Sturdiness aside, Crater Lake Lodge is one of Oregon’s most treasured buildings, set in the heart of the state’s only National Park. It is aesthetically compelling, historically significant, and architectonically unique, which is why it is classified in the highest tier by the National Park Lodge Architecture Preservation Society.

However, it is in the simplest of pleasures, like that found in a rocker overlooking the lake, that harkens back to a sublime time and a bygone era many of us long for today.

Volcano House Hotel - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Volcano House Hotel rests on the rim of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Set right next to the caldera of Kilauea at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, it is the only lodging option inside the borders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The hotel focuses on conservation and remains committed to protecting the land, animals, history, and culture. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Park is home to native flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Typical of many lodges from a similar era, it remains free of modern distractions, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the inherent culture and the beautiful nature surrounding the property and the island.

Blackberry Mountain - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Framed by vast, unrivaled, panoramic views, a stay at Blackberry Mountain provides an immersive experience seamlessly blending the outdoor with an elegant yet rustic and authentic indoor.

A part of the Relais & Châteaux association, it's easy to see how Blackberry Mountain was once rated the best small luxury hotel in America in a Zagat Survey. There are endless trails to explore surrounding the property and several tranquil corners to explore or unwind on your while on the property.

Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountain forest, this luxe resort only recently opened in February of 2019, yet it is already capturing the eye and interest of the most discerning traveler. Adventure and ambiance aside, their wellness and approach to the mind, body, and spirit and an array of activities, including forest bathing, yoga, HIIT classes, hiking, hiking, horseback riding, and herbal tea blending, are sure to have travelers extending their stays.

Written by Samantha Miller and Karen Loftus

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