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).
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.
Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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.