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7 State Park Lodges to Consider Across the U.S.

Rustic and beautiful places to stay around the country

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Visitors can spend the night in grand lodges at state parks across the country. Here is Mather Lodge at dusk at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.
Kirk Jordan/Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

America’s famous national park lodges get lots of love, and rightly so, but sometimes travelers don’t realize there are grand, historic state park lodges, too. Like their national counterparts, many offer impressive architecture in dramatic natural settings, full-service dining and outdoor amenities. Some state park lodges were created under Depression-era programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in the National Park Service’s (NPS) “rustic style.” Also called “parkitecture,” the style emphasized hand-building with native wood and stone. Here’s a sampling of places where you can enjoy vintage grandeur in a state park.

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Guests can enjoy the giant two-sided fireplace inside the Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.
Sandra Rust

Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

The Great Hall, with its colossal, two-sided fireplace, lies at the heart of this lodge erected by the CCC and opened in 1939 about 100 miles southwest of Chicago. The exterior is made of logs and Joliet limestone; 41 original but updated rooms feature knotty pine paneling, and 28 rooms occupy a wing built in 1988. Guests can enjoy the indoor pool, live music and an outdoor collection of chain saw art sculpted from felled trees. The 13 miles of trails through 2,630-acre Starved Rock State Park link forest, canyons, bluffs and seasonal waterfalls. Rates start at $135.

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The Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds are part of the 107-acre state park and beach on the Monterey Peninsula in California.
Courtesy Asilomar Hotel and Conference Ground

Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds, Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds State Park, California 

Architect Julia Morgan, known for designing Hearst Castle, designed this ocean-side complex. The spectacular showcase of Arts and Crafts style was constructed from 1913 to 1928 as a YWCA retreat center. Now a 107-acre state park in its own right, along with the adjoining beach, the property on the Monterey Peninsula offers 313 rooms and breathtaking public spaces such as Crocker Dining Hall, where the cathedral ceiling is supported by redwood trusses measuring more than 50 feet long. Trails on the property take visitors through dunes and along the crashing Pacific surf. Rates start at $162.

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Sylvan Lake Lodge in South Dakota was built in 1937 and features a two-story lobby.
Courtesy Sylvan Lake Lodge

Sylvan Lake Lodge, Custer State Park, South Dakota

Surrounded by a Black Hills forest of spruce and ponderosa pine, this 66-room lodge (29 of them original) dates from 1937. Frank Lloyd Wright’s constant demands and delays lost him the original commission, and a Sioux City architect created the impressive design, which includes a two-story lobby with oak floors, a native stone fireplace and a forest’s worth of knotty pine paneling. In Custer State Park, the property overlooks 17-acre Sylvan Lake where guests can kayak, fish, swim or stroll a mile-long lakeside path weaving through gargantuan boulders. Rates start at $189.

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The historic DuPont Lodge boasts hemlock beams, pine paneling and access to the outdoor activities around Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky.
Courtesy DuPont Lodge

DuPont Lodge, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in southeastern Kentucky draws birders, hikers, wildflower enthusiasts, anglers, river rafters and those who simply want to gaze at the park’s namesake, the 125-foot-wide curtain of cascading water. This historic, 51-room lodge, a 1942 WPA rebuild of a 1934 CCC structure destroyed by fire, is also an attraction with its solid hemlock beams, pine paneling and hefty stone fireplaces. On-site amenities include the Riverview Restaurant, which boasts views of the Cumberland River. Rates start at $85.

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Bear Mountain Inn, featuring massive stone arches, is a year-round destination for travelers to the New York state park.
Courtesy Bear Mountain Inn

Bear Mountain Inn, Bear Mountain State Park, New York

In the Hudson Valley’s Bear Mountain State Park, about 50 miles north of New York City, this inn of 15 deluxe rooms and suites was built in 1915 as an open-sided pavilion. By 1923, its massive stone arches had been fitted with windows and steam heat was installed, making it a year-round destination. Rooms include a continental breakfast, and guests can swim in the park’s summertime outdoor pool, dine on seasonal dishes such as herb-baked halibut, and indulge in a post-hike, hot stone massage or lavender calming facial at the in-house spa. Rates start at $184.

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Mather Lodge is situated on a bluff overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon in Petit Jean State Park.
Kirk Jordan/Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

Mather Lodge, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Built of local logs and stone by the CCC in the 1930s, with later complementary additions, this centerpiece of Petit Jean State Park, about 65 miles northwest of Little Rock, commands a bluff overlooking rugged Cedar Creek Canyon. The lodge has 24 rooms and a restaurant, plus the park has swimming pools, boat rentals and lakes for fishing and paddling kayaks. More than 20 miles of trails wind through the 2,800-acre park and lead to ancient Native American pictographs and natural wonders including Cedar Falls. The lodge is slated to close temporarily for renovations; check online for updates and rates.

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Indiana’s Turkey Run Inn, built in 1919, has a two-story brick facade.
Courtesy Indiana DNR

Turkey Run Inn, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Behind the two-story facade of this 1919 brick property (with more recent additions) lie cozy common areas with fireplaces, a covered veranda with wooden rocking chairs and a dining room where comfort-food favorites include the Hoosier Pork Tenderloin sandwich. Outside the inn, guests can hike, fish, ride horses and visit the nature center and small planetarium in Turkey Run State Park. Explore the 2,382 acres of old forest and sandstone gorges, about 69 miles west of Indianapolis, or survey the 31 historic covered bridges — the Midwest’s largest concentration — in surrounding Parke County. Rates start at $140.

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