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6 Breweries on the Edge of National Parks

You may be in the middle of the wilderness, but a local IPA isn’t that far away

Courtesy Mother Road Brewing (Megan Michelson)

You may be in the middle of the wilderness, but a local IPA isn’t that far away

You’ve just scaled Half Dome, hiked deep into Grand Canyon, or climbed Grand Teton. You deserve a beer. Here’s where to get a pint of local brew after visiting some of America’s finest national parks.

South Gate Brewing Company

Oakhurst, California

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(Courtesy South Gate Brewing)

South Gate Brewing Company, which opened in the Sierra foothills town of Oakhurst in 2013, is less than two hours on scenic roads from Yosemite Valley. If you leave Yosemite National Park via the south entrance on Highway 41, you’ll pass right through here. After climbing big walls or hiking to waterfalls, stop in for a pint of South Gate IPA or a Deadwood porter, named after the peak you can see from your table. Pair it with a brick-oven pizza or a plate of blonde ale beer-battered fish and chips.

Rock Cut Brewing Company

Estes Park, Colorado

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Courtesy Rock Cut Brewing (Courtesy Rockcut Brewing)

There are 12 beers on tap at Rock Cut Brewing Company, which opened in 2015 at the foot of Prospect Mountain in the high-altitude town of Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. After summiting the 14,258-foot Longs Peak, try the East Portal IPA or the Altruism amber, for which $1 per pint is donated to a local charitable organization. Water for the brewing process comes from glacier-fed rivers that flow through Rocky Mountain National Park. You can bring food in from elsewhere or order chicken wings from the food truck parked out front.

Atlantic Brewing Company

Bar Harbor, Maine

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(Courtesy Atlantic Brewing)

Atlantic Brewing has two locations in the sleepy coastal town of Bar Harbor, ten minutes from Acadia National Park. After biking the park’s Carriage Roads or catching the views atop Cadillac Mountain, the park’s high point, you can take a tour of the brewing facility, buy a growler of New Guy IPA to go, or dig into a platter of barbecued ribs at Mainely Meat at the Town Hill headquarters. At the new Midtown tasting room, which opened this summer, you can sample experimental small-batch beers and order a burger with goat cheese and kimchi from the new Midtown Burger.

Grand Teton Brewing

Victor, Idaho

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(Courtesy Grand Teton Brewing)

Grand Teton Brewing, in Victor, Idaho, on the other side of Teton Pass from the town of Jackson, Wyoming, is less than 30 miles from Grand Teton National Park and about two hours from Yellowstone. Try the crisp, golden Old Faithful Ale, or order a pint of Bitch Creek for a sturdy brown ale. The tasting room and pub are part of an 11,000-square-foot facility that makes and ships beers to more than a dozen states. They don’t serve food on site, but the food truck that’s usually parked outside has good beer brats and fried pickles.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Bryson City, North Carolina

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(Courtesy Nantahala Brewing)

Four outdoor-loving friends opened Nantahala Brewing Company in 2010, located just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the town of Bryson City, North Carolina. You can tour the facility or listen to live music while drinking a pint of Noon Day IPA, the brewery’s flagship ale, in the taproom. Water for the beer comes straight from the untouched watersheds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s no food on site, so order a takeout pizza from Anthony’s next door and bring it over.

Mother Road Brewing Company

Flagstaff, Arizona

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(Courtesy Mother Road Brewing)

It’s an 80-minute drive from the rim of Grand Canyon to Mother Road Brewing Company, but you’re probably driving through Flagstaff on the way back from your Grand Canyon adventure anyway, so you might as well stop in for a Tower Station IPA. The taproom, which opened in 2011, has board games and a rotating cast of about nine beers on tap. Order a banh mi, delivered from nearby Proper Meats and Provisions. (There’s also excellent pizza from Pizzicletta, two doors down.) This winter, Mother Road is opening another 8,000-square-foot production facility and tasting room a mile away.

Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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