Skip the overpriced food from the concessioner and check out these local restaurants instead
Maybe you’ve just summited Mount Rainier, biked the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier, or hiked for miles in Zion. Either way, you deserve a good, hot meal. Skip the overpriced burger in the restaurant near the park’s visitor center and dine at one of these eight must-visit eateries in or near some of the country’s best national parks.
Zion National Park
For bagel sandwiches that’ll power you up the Angels Landing Trail, stop at Deep Creek Coffee Company, a locals’ favorite that opened in 2012 in Springdale, Utah, near the Zion National Park entrance. Get the hearty breakfast Bro-rito; smoothies blended with spinach, blueberries, and avocado; or a picnic lunch to take into the park.
After your hike in Zion, head to the Bit and Spur, also in Springdale, for sweet potato tamales, grilled shrimp tacos, and salty fresh-fruit margaritas. A landmark establishment since the 1980s, the Bit and Spur has long been a popular pool hall and saloon for farmers and climbers alike. You’ll also find art exhibitions, live music, and great sunset views from the patio.
Yosemite National Park
Previously called the Ahwahnee Hotel, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel is the only four-star hotel within the park. The dining room feels grand and formal, with high ceilings, a live pianist, chandeliers, and a pricey wine list. (Shorts and flip-flops are discouraged.) But the food is worth dressing up for: hearty French onion soup, roasted rack of lamb, and a perfect filet of salmon.
For less-fancy fare, stop at the Whoa Nellie Deli on your way into the park, entering from the east side of the Sierra, over Tioga Pass. This quirky little café is hidden inside the Mobile gas station on Highway 395, in the sleepy gateway town of Lee Vining. Get a tank of gas and a breakfast burrito or a platter of fish tacos topped with ginger slaw.
Glacier National Park
Located on the east side of Glacier National Park, don’t miss Two Sisters Café, near Babb, Montana. Drop in for the most Montana of post-backpacking meals: giant bison steaks, fresh rainbow trout, and homemade huckleberry pie. Sisters Beth and Susan opened the place in 1993. Everyone’s a local here; the roof is even painted with the phrase “aliens welcome.”
Rainier National Park
Check out Wildberry Restaurant in Ashford, Washington, just outside the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. The place, which opens each spring, is owned and operated by Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, a legendary climber and mountain guide who has summited Mount Rainier 94 times and Everest 15 times. The menu features Nepalese dishes like steamed dumplings and Himalayan stew, plus American staples like burgers and fries.
Or hit up BaseCamp Grill, six miles from the park’s entrance and next door to Whittaker Mountaineering, your go-to spot for climbing gear; RMI Expeditions, the area’s best guiding company; and Whittaker’s Bunkhouse, which offers climber-friendly lodging (from $64). Open only during the climbing season from spring to fall, the BaseCamp Grill is a haven for climbers after a summit attempt—pizza, local beer, picnic tables in an outdoor setting, and a climbing wall to scramble up while you wait for your food.
Badlands National Park
A South Dakota landmark and tourist attraction since 1931, Wall Drug is about eight miles from Badlands National Park’s vast grasslands and rugged pinnacles. Visitors pull over here for the maple doughnuts, five-cent coffee, and hearty South Dakota dishes like bison burgers and hot beef sandwiches served with mashed potatoes. When you’ve filled your belly at the Western art–clad restaurant, you can shop for belt buckles and cowboy boots.