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6 Grand Lodges in National Parks

Stay at these impressive “parkitecture” accommodations for a unique blend of style, culture and history

spinner image many glacier lodge in glacier national park montana
Many Glacier Hotel
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In the early days of the national parks, grand lodges were built to help draw visitors. These lodges combined the European influence of chalets and elegant country homes with the classic American character of log cabins and hunting lodges. This architectural style — also known as “parkitecture” — is a careful blend of nature and culture and an attempt to incorporate visitors into the surrounding wilderness. The scale of many of these hotels suggested the nation’s vast western frontier, and they were constructed of native materials, usually timber and stone.

​These six lodges continue to offer attractive accommodations at prime park sites, and many are National Historic Landmarks. Room rates are typically on the expensive side (more than $200 per night in the offseason) because of high demand; shop carefully for deals based on room type (rooms with shared baths, cabins) and season (any time other than summer).

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​The lodges are open to the public, so you can enjoy them even if you’re not staying there. Tour the stately public spaces, take a break in their great rooms and enjoy a meal in the fancy dining rooms — just be sure to make a reservation.

spinner image the interior of old faithful inn in yellowstone national park wyoming
Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park is one of the largest log structures in the world. ​​​

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

​Let’s start at the beginning. The Old Faithful Inn, which opened in 1904, is the first of the grand national park lodges and is in Yellowstone, America’s first national park.

The massive scale of this timber and stone building, known as one of the largest log structures in the world, is personified by the Great Hall, which features lodgepole pine columns and beams more than 76 feet long. Its public spaces are furnished with Mission-style tables and chairs and oak writing desks with lamps that feature art-glass shades. Perhaps the biggest perk: The property is next to Old Faithful, and you can see the geyser from the lodge’s front porch.

spinner image ahwahnee hotel in yosemite national park in northern california
The 1927 Ahwahnee was built to blend in with its surroundings in Yosemite National Park.​​
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The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

​The Ahwahnee, built in 1927, may be the most elegant of the national park lodges — and not just because Queen Elizabeth stayed there. The six-story structure references a country estate and features a rough-cut granite exterior that blends into the rock formations of the surrounding cliffs. The lodge, which sits on the edge of a meadow in Yosemite National Park, offers views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls. Native American basket weave designs are featured extensively throughout the interior. The hotel includes many gathering spots, but the cathedral-like Great Lounge, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and the beautiful dining room, with its elaborate chandeliers, are the most popular. (Note that the Ahwahnee Dining Room is closed for repairs until August 2023.)

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spinner image the interior of el tovar inn in grand canyon national park arizona
​​El Tovar Hotel combines three strong design elements: a Swiss chalet, a castle on the Rhine and an American log cabin.​​
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El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

​The historic El Tovar Hotel, perched directly on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, has welcomed visitors since 1905. The lodge incorporates a trifecta of strong design elements: a Swiss chalet, a castle on the Rhine and an American log cabin. The main building is constructed primarily of stone and dark-stained wood and logs. Inside, the faint scent of Oregon pine leads to the celebrated dining room, where murals honor Apache, Hopi, Mojave and Navajo Native American tribes. The hotel and its companion building, the Hopi House, helped introduce the beauty of the U.S. Southwest and American Indian arts to visitors from across the country and around the world. ​​

spinner image Paradise Inn, Mt. Rainier
The 1917 Paradise Inn is located near the base of Mount Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park.
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Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

​One of the many jewels of Mount Rainier National Park is Paradise Inn, which opened in 1917. The property, located in the park’s aptly named Paradise Valley near the base of Mount Rainier, features what may be the most lavish display of wildflowers in the national park system, along with in-your-face views of the glacier-clad mountain. The inn’s exterior combines native rock, walls covered in cedar shingles, and a steeply pitched roof designed to withstand the park’s massive snowfalls. Popular parts of the hotel include the expansive Great Room, with its roaring fireplace and log framing, and the equally large dining room, with a 50-foot-high stone fireplace. Much of the furniture throughout the building is handmade from local materials.

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The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is the only place to stay within Bryce Canyon National Park. ​​
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​​The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The Lodge at Bryce Canyon is the only place to stay in the national park, and it’s been this way since the hotel opened in 1925. Here, parkitecture is practiced on a smaller scale, one that offers a more intimate hotel experience with fewer modern frills (no TV in the rooms or Wi-Fi). The lodge and some of the on-site cabins offer many of the features common to all the grand national park lodges — local building materials (primarily stone and wood), large fireplaces, a heavily shingled exterior laid in irregular courses, and a large dining area where guests gather after an active day in the park.

spinner image adirondack chairs on the deck of many glacier lodge in glacier national park montana
The majestic Many Glacier Hotel sits proudly on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana.
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​​Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana

​Simply called “Many” by locals and repeat visitors, this massive hotel opened in 1915 and sits proudly on the shores of Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Lake, where it provides spectacular views of the water and the park’s signature glacier-covered mountains. The hotel, incorporating the elements of a Swiss chalet, was constructed with timber and local stone. The exterior is painted “national park brown,” but the prominent gabled roof, long dormers, and wood-shingle cladding make it interesting. The towering Great Room is four stories high, and guests can warm themselves around the circular “campfire fireplace.” The Ptarmigan Dining Room features a huge stone fireplace and a panoramic view of the lake. 

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