Rail travel to national park grand lodges was one of the most luxurious US vacations a century ago. From historic log-and-stone icons to safari-inspired tented camps, your park stay options have grown, even though some have year-long waitlists.
The best hotels share one thing despite their diversity. They provide unparalleled views and access to famous sights like spouting geysers, teeming wildlife, and smoking calderas. Examples of our favorite cases.
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The Yellowstone National Park Old Faithful Inn, Wyoming
The Yellowstone Park Association and Northern Pacific Railroad established the Old Faithful Inn in 1904, located in America’s first national park. Since then, the lodge is known for its geyser views and “Parkitecture,” an American architectural style that emphasizes natural materials, hand-hewn finishes, and harmony with nature. The Robert Reamer-designed Old Faithful Inn was the grandest model. An 80-foot lobby, 500 tons of rhyolite fireplace, and four levels of interior balconies make it one of the world’s largest log structures.
However, the nearly 330 guestrooms range from cozy shared bathrooms to spacious suites. AC, WiFi, and TV are not included in any room category, but nobody cares. Early booking is advised for Old Faithful Inn’s May–October season.
Wyoming, Jenny Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, located 30 miles from Yellowstone, offers incredible scenery, including glittering spires and glacial lakes. The famous Jenny Lake lodge is nestled in a spruce stand at the foot of the Tetons.
From a 1920s dude ranch to a AAA Four-Diamond eco-resort, Jenny Lake Lodge has down comforters and heated floors in its 37 historical cabins. The Signature Stay includes nightly five-course dinners in The Dining Room (famous for locally-sourced specialties, award-winning wine selections, and stunning Teton views), daily gourmet breakfast, guided horseback rides (these fill up fast; sign up ASAP), cruiser-style bikes, and other activities. This lodge’s small size, outsized reputation, and limited season (June to early October) may result in year-long waitlists.
The Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Conveniently located near Grand Teton and Yellowstone, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole offers a variety of activities. As you might expect along a superhighway for elk, bison, moose, and bears, the resort’s September Day with the Wolves is a bucket-list adventure. An expert guide will teach you about the local gray wolves before you set out to find them in Yellowstone. A private flightseeing trip will introduce you to Old Faithful from above. Despite their elusiveness, these remarkable creatures were hunted and disappeared from Yellowstone in the 1920s and reintroduced in the 1990s. Proceeds from each trip will now support conservation.
As at any Four Seasons hotel, you’ll experience luxury. The amenities in Jackson Hole include marble bathrooms, celebrity chef partnerships, and seasonal ski concierges. The nearly 160-room resort is open year-round, a local advantage.
Canyon Lodge, Zion National Park, Utah
The only in-park lodge in Zion was designed by Parkitecture giant Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the mid-1920s, commissioned by the Union Pacific Railroad. Fire destroyed the main building in 1966, but many cabins survived, and the restored central structure resembles the original.
In its 81 rooms and suites, this rare historic park lodge has WiFi and TVs (the 40 cabins don’t), but screen time won’t matter much given what’s outside.Hikers will love Zion for its red rocks, slot canyons, and waterfalls.Experience the park’s most popular hike, Angel’s Landing, or take a scenic drive through Zion Canyon to access trails along the Virgin River, which leads to the emerald Pools.Visit Red Rock Grill for a post-adventure meal with stunning canyon views, ideal for their deck seating. The grill and lodge are open continually.