Today: Top 10 best lodges & hotels in (and near) the USA’s National Parks
Happy 4th of July to my audience from the United States of America! On July 4, 1776, the delegates of the 13 colonies officially adopted the Declaration of Independence and ended British rule. Today, millions of Americans meet up with loved ones around grills and barbecue pits to celebrate the fourth of July (or Independence Day), many of them doing that in one of the country’s majestic National Parks. From the shorelines of the East Coast to the magnificent West Coast scenery and the majestic Rockies, there are more than enough opportunities to explore the great outdoors in one of these spectacular parks. Here’s my selections of the 10 best hotels and lodges in (or nearby) these National Parks.
What is your favorite lodge (or hotel) in or near one of America’s National Parks? Leave a comment.
Built by the Great Northern Railway in 1914-15, Many Glacier Hotel is situated on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake inside Glacier National Park. This location presents visitors with the Swiss Lounge, Heidi’s Snack Shop, the lakeside Ptarmigan Dining Room as well as a Gift Shop. Red Bus tours, boat cruises, horseback rides, evening ranger programs, and numerous other activities are available at this spectacular lakeside setting, one of the best of any of the national parks. Partially renovated in 2016, the secluded, five-story hotel features two suites, seven family rooms and 205 guest rooms offering lakeside, deluxe, standard and value lodging options. All guest rooms at Many Glacier Hotel are rustic, yet comfortable. In keeping with the era in which the hotel was built, the rooms offer guests modest amenities and old-world style accommodations. There are no televisions or air conditioning though.
- Lodge website: Many Glacier Hotel
Located directly on the canyon rim, El Tovar features a fine dining room, lounge, gift shop, and newsstand. The hotel has 78 rooms, many of which are suites. Due to the historic nature of the hotel, no two rooms are alike, giving the hotel distinctive charm. El Tovar first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by the Chicago architect Charles Whittlesey, who envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. This was done in an effort to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time considered European culture the epitome of refinement. It cost $250,000 USD to build the property, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. In 1987 the Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark. In the past, the hotel has hosted such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, and countless others.
- Lodge website: El Tovar
The Ahwahnee shines as one of the crown jewel of the national park lodges. Known for its stunning interior design and architecture, the lodge was specifically designed to highlight its natural surroundings, featuring Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point. The hotel holds a historic heritage as it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. The destination of queens and presidents alike, this distinctive Yosemite hotel offers a perfect balance of history, hospitality and elegance. The Ahwahnee offers hotel rooms, suites, parlors, and cottages. There is a gift shop with a focus on local artisans, a sweet shop, a bar, and a heated outdoor swimming pool on the premises. The Ahwahnee Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
- Lodge website: The Ahwahnee
An elegant hideaway since 1927, the historic Inn at Death Valley is a AAA-rated four-diamond resort that still pampers every guest. Once the exclusive desert escape for such Hollywood elites as Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard, The Inn is bringing the elegance of Old Hollywood back after its recent $100 million USD renaissance. Set against the hillside, the exclusive and private resort looks out over the valley toward the Panamint Mountains. Natural springs run right through the hotel and lush palm trees and flowering bougainvillea adorn the grounds. The Inn features brand new casitas, a spring-fed pool, and classic California-desert style. Smack in the heart of Death Valley, this luxurious retreat is part of the Oasis at Death Valley resort, which also includes the family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley just down the road.
- Lodge website: The Inn at Death Valley
The exclusive Jenny Lake Lodge is well-situated property hidden beneath towering spruces at the foot of the Grand Tetons mountain range. Jenny Lake Lodge is the product of evolution: it began its life as a man-only ranch for city folks eager for the experience of “roughing it” but emerged a 4-diamond eco-resort offering the finest service and lodging while still experiencing a National Park. All cabins include handmade quilts, down comforters and unique western charm. This semi-inclusive property includes amenities such as horseback rides, cruiser-style bicycle rentals, interpretive tours, and croquet on the lawn with complimentary wine. Also included are meals at the Dining Room, renowned for its rustic elegance, spectacular views and award-winning cuisine including a 5-course dining experience made from sustainable ingredients, many from the local Jackson area.
- Lodge website: Jenny Lake Lodge
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park – evenly divided between the USA states of Tennessee and North Carolina – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the wealth of its biodiversity, a showplace of forested mountains, waterfalls and hiking trails. Over 17,000 species are documented in the park and researchers believe an additional 30,000 – 80,000 species live here. In these wild, imposing natural surroundings, Blackberry Mountain is an establishment that prioritizes overall wellness, outdoor adventure and inner serenity. Rooms take the form of cabins and cottages designed with nature in mind, places to unplug from the world and reconnect with oneself. The hotel’s two restaurants both have sublime views and serve the creations of Chef Josh Feathers, who uses healthy ingredients and combines local flavours and culinary techniques. The property also has an underground spa offering Ayurvedic treatments.
- Lodge website: Blackberry Mountain
Paradise lies deep in the Alaskan wilderness, more precisely in Wrangell-St Elias National Park, which is part of the largest protected land mass on earth. Located a hundred miles from paved roads and quite possibly the most isolated National Park lodge in the Americas, Ultima Thule Lodge is immersed in nature, steeped in luxury, and centered on adventure. The main lodge sits at the top of the hill and houses the dining room, open kitchen, and sitting room with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the mighty Chitina River and mountains to the South. The lodge offers 5 private cabins built using local timber and designed to maximize privacy. With over thirteen million acres at your disposal, and expert pilot guides available to private excursions – you could be hiking a meadow in the morning and sledding down a glacier all in the same day.
- Hotel website: Ultima Thule Lodge
- Other accolades: Ultima Thule Lodge also features in my top 10 list of the world’s most remotely located luxury hotels
Utah’s Zion National Park is a wonder in itself, but this new luxurious wilderness retreat next door – to open this summer – might just give the park a run for its money. Situated on 1,100 acres just one mile from Zion’s east boundary, Spirit will feature 40 individual suites and homesteads that are perfectly perched along the eastern slope of the Clear Creek Mountain range, with the park’s most iconic rock formations in perfect view. Uniquely designed to evoke a connection to, and integrate seamlessly with, the natural beauty and wilderness of Utah’s first and most-visited national park, the resort’s accommodations were designed by Nomadic Resorts, a Dutch architecture firm that specializes in eco-friendly, luxurious lodgings for remote properties. The first phase of the property, which includes approximately seven suites, will open in summer 2022, with a full opening slated for spring 2023 (room rates start from $3000 USD per night).
- Lodge website: Spirit
This Aman resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is only 9 miles (14 km) from the gateway to Grand Teton National Park known for its alpine peaks, clear lakes and the Snake River for rafting and fly fishing. The all-seasons property clings to the crest of East Gros Ventre Butte, affording magnificent views of the Grand Tetons and Snake River Valley below. Sensitively designed with materials native to Wyoming, Amangani features redwood walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, and woven cowhide chairs. Spacious suites include king-sized beds, fireplaces, daybeds, and decks with spectacular mountain views. It’s a perfect place to splurge near the wilderness of Grand Teton and -further away – Yellowstone National Park. Evoking the pioneering spirit of the Old West in its redwood and sandstone architecture, the all-season retreat invites guests to discover outdoor adventure and the extraordinary natural beauty of Wyoming.
- Hotel website: Amangani
- Other accolades: Amangani also features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in the USA and the world’s most luxurious ski resorts.
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food and beverage credit).
Amangiri – Aman’s second property in the USA – is located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, and within easy reach of some of the USA’s most magnificent National Parks and Monuments, including the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Monument Valley. The resort – by far the best luxury hotel in the USA – is tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Built around a central swimming pool with spectacular views, the stunningly beautiful resort blends into its dramatic surrounds where deep canyons and towering plateaus create a raw landscape of immense power. Amangiri’s unrivaled backcountry access allows guests to explore the region’s striking desert scenery on foot. Amangiri also features a high-end ‘glamping’ site – called Camp Sarika – which is linked to the main resort.
- Hotel website: Amangiri
- Other accolades: Amangiri also features in my top 10 lists of hotel rooms with the best views, the best Aman hotels in the world, the world’s most luxurious wilderness lodges, the world’s most beautiful hotel pools, the world’s best desert retreats, and the USA’s best luxury hotels.
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).