hotel lake mountains
Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana (Photo: Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection)

The 20 Best National-Park Lodges in the U.S.

Get a front-row seat to epic views and adventure by staying at a national-park lodge. From Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel to Shenandoah’s Big Meadows Lodge, these are our favorites.

hotel lake mountains

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Try to picture a national-park lodge. You’re likely conjuring up images of hand-hewn timber frames, large granite-encrusted fireplaces, and exposed wooden beams, right? That’s no accident. These aesthetics are all a part of National Park Service Rustic style, or, as it’s more colloquially called, Parkitecture.

When the National Park Service (NPS) was formed in 1916, public-land managers were caught in a bit of a pickle—building infrastructure to accommodate growing visitation while preserving natural and cultural resources for future generations. The Rustic style park lodges were created to accommodate the early visitors who often arrived after multiday train journeys. I’ve had the privilege of exploring and dining at a handful of these storied structures, and, trust me, they are as impressive today as they were when they first opened.

rustic dining hall
The Spottswood Dining Room, Big Meadows Lodge, Shenandoah National Park. (Photo: Delaware North at Shenandoah National Park/goshenandoah.com)

This groundbreaking architectural movement was conceived with the intention of designing buildings to blend into, rather than impose upon, the landscape. Log columns and stone chimneys were created out of native materials. Dramatically sloping roofs drew the eye up and toward nearby mountains, and windows were strategically placed to give guests exquisite natural views from every room, while grand dining halls and lounge areas encouraged visitors to gather and mingle, a hallmark of the new “national park experience.”

Though dozens of options for accommodation exist inside national-park boundaries, some retain the original grandeur and spirit of the original 20th-century Parkitecture. Below are 20 of our favorite national-park lodges, with cozy amenities, rustic decor, and histories as diverse as the parks themselves.

And a word about making reservations: book early, the further ahead, the better. These places fill up fast, and some allow reservations over a year in advance. It’s best to check each lodge’s website to find out when reservations open up and to mark that date on your calendar. Also, you can contact the lodges to ask about cancellations, which do happen. Prices vary with season.

1. The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

lodge and cliff
The Ahwahnee in summer. (Photo: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau)

Set in a wildflower-speckled meadow at the base of the Royal Arches (a series of enormous natural granite arches up a 2,000-foot wall) in Yosemite Valley, The Ahwahnee was designed by the legendary parks architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and built from 1925 to 1927. The 121-room hotel, named after the Miwok word for Yosemite Valley as the “place of the gaping mouth,” is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and often considered the crown jewel of national-park lodges.

The Great Lounge, the Ahwahnee (Photo: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau)

The first things I always notice in approaching The Ahwahnee are its sweeping green slate roofs that draw the eye up toward immense granite walls, while shaded wooden terraces and huge rock columns help the lodge mesh with its surroundings. Inside, visitors will find a dining hall with 34-foot-high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, plus elegant suites and a Great Lounge with soft armchairs, sofas, and a vintage brick fireplace, perfect for evening cocoa and chats with other park-goers after hiking and biking the Valley trails or climbing on its walls.

HOW TO BOOK IT

The lodge schedules reservations a year and a day in advance, and the reservations can be made up to seven days out from the first day. Book on the website or call 888-413-8869. Note that The Ahwahnee will be closed January 2 to March 2, 2023, for seismic upgrades and other renovations.

For our complete travel guide to Yosemite National Park, click here. For a guide to a dozen best hikes in Yosemite, click here.

2. Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana

lodge in mountains
Swiftcurrent Lake with Many Glacier hotel and Grinnell Point, in Glacier National Park (Photo: Feng Wei Photography/Getty)

On the shoreline of shimmering Swiftcurrent Lake sits Many Glacier Hotel, a 215-room Swiss-style chalet and the largest inn in Glacier National Park. When first promoting the park to potential visitors in the early 1900s, the Great Northern Railway, which transported most guests to the area, used slogans like “America’s Switzerland” and “The American Alps,” urging travelers to skip pricey trips to Europe and “See America First.” As a result, Many Glacier, built by the railway in 1914 and 1915, embodies the storybook-style Germanic architecture often associated with the Alps; the Swiss style originated in Germany, inspired by the elements of the mountains and alpine world.

alpine lake
Lake view from the deck of the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park. (Photo: Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection)

Partially renovated in 2016, the building still features all the cut-out wood detailing and earth-toned terraces of yesteryear, with view-filled lounges, exposed log beams, and a three-story lobby with a Chickering baby grand piano. At night, the Ptarmigan Dining Room serves up scrumptious Continental cuisine and Montana microbrews, which you can enjoy while gazing at the panoramic backdrop of the northern Rockies, perhaps after you have just been hiking, biking, or climbing there.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made through the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Glacier National Park, click here. 

3. The Inn at Death Valley, Death Valley, California

inn and mountains
The nearly 100-year-old Inn at Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park, has a spring-fed swimming pool. (Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty)

Built in 1927, the Inn at Death Valley has long served as a hangout and hideaway for California’s high society. Once frequented by actors Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, and Carole Lombard, the Inn recently completed a five-year $150 million renovation, bringing back its former stateliness for modern park guests.

Situated in the California side of the park (which stretches east into Nevada), in the popular tourist hub of Furnace Creek, the 88-room inn is just a stone’s throw from the hiking hot spots of Golden Canyon and Zabriskie Point. The hotel exudes SoCal Spanish (Spanish Mission) style, from its terra-cotta tile roof and spring-fed swimming pool to its walking paths through shady date palms. Remote and sunbaked, the Inn lets you imagine the roaring twenties, the early forty-niners hastening to the Gold Rush, and the Timbisha Shoshone who once used the freshwater oasis. My favorite dining spot in the park, the kitschy Last Kind Words Saloon, is just a mile away in Furnace Creek.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made through the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Death Valley National Park, click here.

4. El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon and hotel
An aerial view of the El Tovar Hotel, Hopi House, Colter Hall, and the Kachina Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park (Photo: NPS photo)

Designed by Charles Whittlesey, chief architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, the El Tovar opened its doors in 1905. Perched on a high ledge along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking down at the Colorado River, the structure has, to me, always felt slightly out of place in the desert Southwest of Arizona; that’s because it was designed to emulate a Norwegian-style villa to match the tastes of high society at a time when Western Europe was the epitome of refinement.

Once considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi, the 78-room El Tovar still impresses with many trappings of a cornerstone national-park lodge: its large lounge is wrapped in hewn Oregon pine, other spaces feature cobblestone fireplaces, and a handsome dining room offers dark wood paneling, vintage light fixtures, and murals reflecting the customs of four local tribes–the Hopi, Apache, Mojave, and Navajo.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can go through the lodge website,  xanterra.com, or 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Grand Canyon National Park, click here.

5. Jenny Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Jenny Lake Lodge
Patio time at the Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty)

What was once a rustic, 1930s-era dude ranch for up to 65 guests is now a AAA Four Diamond resort at the foot of the serrated peaks and steep canyons of the Teton Range. Jenny Lake Lodge is comprised of 37 historic log cabins, with updated interiors that include tiled bathrooms, braided rugs, quilted bedspreads, and plush lounge chairs. With easy hiking access to three glacier-fed lakes—String, Leigh, and, of course, Jenny—a scenic bike path, and a communal dining room overlooking the iconic mountains (and serving some of the destination’s best food), these once humble casitas now boast the best location in the park.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the lodge website or call 307-543-3100. Reservations can be made one year in advance.

For our complete guide to Grand Teton National Park, click here.

6. Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park, Washington

Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park (Photo: Courtesy Aramark Destinations)

Nestled between towering firs and hemlocks, the Lake Crescent Lodge makes a pretty epic base camp for exploring the Olympic Peninsula. Built in 1915, the 55-guestroom lodge is ideally situated between the park’s mountainous Hurricane Ridge area and driftwood-strewn beaches like Rialto and Second. A Victorian-era sunroom beckons visitors to kick back and enjoy the scenery, while an antique-furnished lobby with a stone fireplace is the place to hang out after hiking the Hoh Rainforest. Book a Roosevelt Fireplace Cabin for the best views of the water.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the lodge website or call 888-896-3818. Operating season for this year is April 29 through January 1, 2023.

For our complete guide to Olympic National Park, click here.

7. Big Meadows Lodge, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

lodge in shenandoah
Big Meadows Lodge, Shenandoah National Park (Photo: Delaware North at Shenandoah National Park/goshenandoah.com)

Named for a wide grassy field near the hotel where deer often graze, Big Meadows Lodge arose through the work of the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps, as funded by the New Deal, a massive push to add infrastructure to the national parks while providing much-needed jobs.

Full of fascinating details, such as the use of native chestnut wood paneling from trees that are now nearly extinct, Big Meadows offers 29 rooms in the main building and 72 others ranging from multi-unit lodges to stand-alone cabins with fireplaces. After a day exploring Shenandoah’s Skyline Drive (Big Meadows sits at mile 51), grab a plate of pan-seared trout and a slice of blackberry-ice-cream pie at the Spottswood Dining Room.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the lodge website or call 877-847-1919. The lodge takes reservations 13 months in advance, and October is by far the busiest time. The lodge will close November 6 and reopen in mid-April.

For our complete guide to Shenandoah National Park, click here.

8. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

old faithful inn and geyser
Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park (Photo: NPS/Jim Peaco)

Designed by Robert Reamer and built in 1903 and 1904, the 327-room Old Faithful Inn is famed as the largest log structure in the world, at 700 feet long and seven stories high. Simply walking into its 92-foot-high lobby is an awesome experience; I craned my neck in wonder at its twisted log brackets and the lodgepole columns soaring past a central stone chimney quarried from nearby Black Sand Basin.

This varnished woodsy wonder of a building was intentionally constructed around a prominent view of the most famous geyser in the country, Old Faithful, and hotel guests can request rooms with views of the geothermally active Geyser Basin that contains other spouts as well. Meals at the property’s Obisidian Dining Room were once accompanied by a string quartet, and though that’s now absent, modern park visitors are still treated to hearty dishes (like locally sourced bison burgers and smoked-trout ravioli) in the updated restaurant.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the fifth day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made through the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Yellowstone National Park, click here.

9. Glacier Park Lodge, Glacier National Park, Montana

Often referred to as the Big Tree Lodge, Glacier Park Lodge was the first of several Swiss-chalet-style accommodations built in then newly formed Glacier National Park. Opened to the public in 1913, the 161-room lodge is located just outside the eastern side of the park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and offers excellent access to the waterfalls and hiking paths near Two Medicine Lake.

Helmed by architect Samuel Bartlett, the hotel features an incredible forest-themed lobby with soaring Douglas fir timbers, each over 40 feet tall and up to three feet in diameter. Modern guest rooms are designed to embody the Parkitecture style, with Native artwork, wood furnishings, and cowboy-inspired textiles. For tasty post-adventure eats (Moose Drool poutine, anyone?), it doesn’t get much better than the menu at the Great Northern Dining Room, with its stunning floor-to-ceiling views.

HOW TO BOOK IT

The lodge released 2023 bookings in mid January of this past year and will release 2024 bookings in mid January of 2023, for May through September. Book on the lodge’s website or call 406-892-2525.

For our complete guide to Glacier National Park, click here.

10. Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, Utah

The lawn of Zion Lodge in Zion National Park, Zion National Park (Photo: Rob Lanum/Getty)

Completed in 1925, Zion Lodge was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, an architect well-known for his work on Bryce Canyon Lodge and the Ahwahnee. After an alliance was forged between the Union Pacific Railway and the NPS, permitting construction on protected park land, the lodge was created in the heart of the area using untreated natural logs and locally sourced sandstone to help it blend into Zion’s craggy vermillion walls and piñon pines. Nearly a century later, this historic hotel, with 76 rooms, six suites, and 40 cabins, is home to easy hiking access, hosts ranger-led programs, and offers well-appointed cabins and suites, plus Southwestern fare like Navajo fry-bread tacos at Red Rock Grill.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made on the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Zion National Park, click here.

11. Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

lodge rainbow
Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park (Photo: Courtesy Aramark Destinations)

Phenomenal views of the Four Corners region, Native-inspired textiles, and custom-handcrafted furniture await guests at Far View Lodge, the only in-park lodging at Mesa Verde. Although this lodge, completed in 1974, is newer than many park hotels on our list, its minimalist design and rust-tinted exterior epitomize the NPS ethic of blending into the surrounding landscape: the red buttes and mesa tops of southwestern Colorado. Situated a short drive from must-see sites like Cliff Palace, Far View, and Long House, the 150-room hotel occupies the most central location in the park, and its signature dining option, the Metate Room, is a wonderful spot to kick back and enjoy the sunset.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Far View Lodge closed for winter on October 26, 2022, and will reopen April 14, 2023. To book, check the lodge website or call 800-449-2288. Though the facility is closed, the concessionaire is still taking reservations and is accepting them through 2023 ending in October.

For our 63 Parks Traveler guide to Mesa Verde National Park, click here.

12. Grant Grove Cabins, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

rustic cabin
Grant Grove cabin, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (Photo: Courtesy Delaware North/visitsequoia.com)

It’s hard to argue with wood-shingled fairy-tale cabins set within walking distance of  “The Nation’s Christmas Tree.” Located in Grant Grove Village, on the western edge of Kings Canyon, these charming tiny homes vary from more modern 1940s-style duplex cottages with private baths to rustic canvas-sided tent cabins (large tents on platforms). Pro tip: rent the Honeymoon Cabin if you’re keen on national park history; it’s the oldest standing structure in the village. There are nine cabins and 17 tent cabins.

tent cabins
Tent cabins, Grant Grove Cabins (Photo: Shae Drosdak)

HOW TO BOOK IT

Closed now, the cabins are anticipated to reopen April 14, 2023, and the tent cabins to open on May 12, 2023. Book on the lodge’s website or by calling 866-807-3598. Reservations may be made up to a year in advance.

For our complete guide to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, click here.

13. Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

mountain lodge
Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty)

Yet another Swiss-chalet-style structure on our list is Mount Rainier’s Paradise Inn, constructed from 1916 to 1917 and located 19 miles from the southwestern Nisqually Entrance. Boasting one of the first ski lifts in the region, the 121-guestroom lodge once hosted Olympic Trials and housed a guide service led by Lou Whittaker, renowned as the first American to climb Mount Everest. Today’s inn has since modernized, but it retains some of the semi-rustic characteristics of its days of old: showers and restrooms are located down the hall, and there are no televisions, telephones, or internet service (but hot water and electricity are available—not to worry). If you’re jonesing for a private bath after a day in the wilderness, book one of the property’s annex rooms.

inn in deep snow
Paradise Inn in winter, under a bit of snow (Photo: kellyvandellen/Getty)

HOW TO BOOK IT

Paradise Inn is closed for the season, to reopen May 20, 2023, typically operating until October. Reservations can be made on the inn’s website or by calling 855-755-2275.

For our 63 Parks Traveler Guide to Rainier National Park, click here.

14. Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Wuksachi Lodge, built in 1999, is a fantastic example of a modern effort at creating iconic NPS accommodations right at the center of a park’s most popular sights. After Giant Forest Village—a 1920s-era complex designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood—was carefully demolished to prevent further damage to vegetation and soils, Sequoia planned for and built a new lodging hub set nine miles farther north, an easy drive from some of my favorite Giant Forest hikes, like the three-mile Congress Trail.

Thanks to the 102-guestroom lodge’s modern-day construction, amenities like private baths and mini fridges didn’t have to be shoehorned in, as with many properties on this list. Guest rooms are also more spacious and offer central heating, flat-panel TVs, and ski racks for winter adventurers who want to hit the marked trails right outside the lodge. The Peaks restaurant with outstanding views is available for indoor dining, while hungry hikers perfecting their dirtbag suntans might prefer to chill outside on the pizza deck.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the lodge’s website or call 866-807-3598. The lodge may stay open all year; it had announced no winter closure date at time of publication. Reservations are taken one year in advance.

For our complete guide to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, click here.

15. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Winter at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone National Park (Photo: Jerry Lee Whaley/Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins is as charming today as it was in 1936, the year of its debut, and it’s notable as one of the few Yellowstone lodges that remains open in both summer and winter (with several weeks’ closure during the shoulder seasons). Come summer, the 222-room facility is the best spot in the north side of the park for hikers and wildlife lovers (elk are often seen grazing right outside), while winter heralds the opening of the Bear Den Ski Shop, where guests can rent cross-country skis or book guided snowshoeing trips. Though you won’t find air-conditioning at this establishment, there are surprisingly sophisticated amenities, like hot-tub cabins and an in-park espresso bar.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the fifth day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made on the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757. Will open December 15, closing March 6, 2023, and open again on April 28, 2023, closing November 26 (dates subject to change).

For our complete guide to Yellowstone National Park, click here.

17. Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Volcano House is one of those mystical, only-in-the-national-parks hotels. After all, where else can you nab a room and a meal with views of an active crater? Structures on the rim of Kilauea are said to predate an 1824 grass hut erected by Chiefess Kapiolani and her entourage, while the first iteration of the Volcano House hotel was contructed in 1877, and the hotel as it currently stands dates back to 1941.

Significantly remodeled in 2013, this 33-room lodge has been refreshed to its 1940s luster, with polished jade-hued floors, vintage crown moldings, and a fierce bronze statue of the goddess Pele in the lobby, sculpted by Honolulu artist Marguerite Blassingame. Guest rooms feature tropical touches like bamboo-accent furniture, befitting their island locale. I’d recommend grabbing a fruity cocktail and a sashimi trio at Uncle George’s Lounge after traversing the Crater Rim Trail along the Kilauea summit caldera.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the website or call 808-756-9625, especially for late availability that may not show on the website. May through September is the busy season, followed by slow months and more availability. Reservations are taken a year in advance.

For our 63 Parks Traveler guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, click here.

18. Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park, Montana

lakeside lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park (Photo: Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection)

In a country brimming with historic national-park lodges, the concentration in Glacier surely takes the cake. Built in 1913 in the Swiss Alps style so prevalent at the turn of the century, the 82-guest room Lake McDonald Lodge, 11 miles from the West Glacier entrance, features all of the fabulous amenities one might expect from a historic NPS hotel: multiple dining options, a cozy reading room, evening ranger programs, and the park’s iconic Red Bus tours, which pull up right out front. Two years ago, I spent a glorious sunset traipsing from the lodge’s dreamy, storybook exterior straight out to the wooden dock overlooking the eponymous lake; the space oozes wistfulness.

cabin
Cabin at Lake McDonald Lodge (Photo: Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection)

Guest rooms are what hoteliers refer to as “rustic, yet comfortable”—i.e., no air-conditioning, no elevators, and no televisions—but you won’t need them with the breathtaking vistas of Lake McDonald outside your window. Feeling intrepid? Book a hostel-style bunk room in the complex’s Snyder Hall. Just bring your slippers for nighttime visits to the shared bathrooms.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made on the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Glacier National Park, click here.

19. Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

lodge
Bright Angel Lodge, Grand Canyon, Arizona (Photo: Grand Canyon National Park/Creative Commons)

Mary Jane Colter, the famed architect of Hopi House, Hermits Rest, and Phantom Ranch—three other iconic locations within this park—designed the arts and crafts–influenced Bright Angel Lodge, which opened to the public in 1935. At a time when the El Tovar Hotel was considered much more luxurious, Colter redesigned and elevated this primo South Rim property, once the site of the shabby Bright Angel Camp, to its current glory.

The place encompasses 39 lodge guestrooms and 50 historic cabins. Interiors are accentuated by Southwest and Mission-inspired furnishings, historic photographs, and colorful textiles, while the exteriors of its quaint cabins feature log facades. History buffs might want to spring for the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, a circa-1890 suite once home to one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Reservations open the first day of the same month in which guests would like to visit the following year, and can be made on the lodge website, xanterra.com, or by calling 888-297-2757.

For our complete guide to Grand Canyon National Park, click here.

19. Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic National Park, Washington

Kalaloch Lodge on the coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park (Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty)

Watching the sun set over the wild Pacific Ocean is the Kalaloch Lodge experience. The 64-unit hotel, built in 1953, invites guests to step back to a simpler time, one without in-room telephones or Wi-Fi. With its central location between the Hoh and Quinault Rainforests, its adorable pet-friendly cabins, and easy access to quiet beaches, Kalaloch makes exploring the diverse Olympic Peninsula a breeze.

Enjoying the Pacific Ocean view from the Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic National Park (Photo: George Rose / Colaborador/Getty)

After a day of adventuring in the park, chow down on sustainably sourced seafood at its Creekside Restaurant, which also features expansive ocean views.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Visit the lodge’s website to make reservations or call 866-662-9969. The lodge is open every day all year and takes reservations 13 months in advance. Its website recommends making reservations at least four months ahead for summer visits, six months for extended stays, but notes often being able to accommodate last-minute requests, so check online or call.

For our complete guide to Olympic National Park, click here.

20. Chisos Mountains Lodge, Big Bend National Park, Texas

lodge and butte
Chisos Mountains Lodge in Big Bend National Park (Photo: NPS Photo)

Situated at the base of the Casa Grande Peak, at an elevation of 5,400 feet, the 72-room  Chisos Mountains Lodge is not what most people think of when planning a visit to the mostly flat Lone Star State. But Big Bend is full of surprises, and this hidden gem is nestled in its most stunning (and centrally located) hiking area. Visitors can walk right out of their rooms and onto the famous Window Trail, summit 7,832-foot Emory Peak, or, as I did during my sojourn, spend a full day on the 12-mile South Rim Trail. Digs are simple, with wooden Mission-inspired furnishings and colorful comforters, but it’s hard to beat the vistas of dramatic rocky outcroppings and the high-altitude conifers of Chisos Basin. An on-site restaurant, the Mountain View, offers Tex-Mex and American fare, plus more of those outstanding mountain views.

HOW TO BOOK IT

Check the lodge website or call 877-386-4383. On January 1, 2023, the lodge will open bookings for all of 2024. Open year-round, it is the only lodging within Big Bend National Park.

For our complete guide to Big Bend National Park, click here.

Emily Pennington is a freelance adventure journalist based in Los Angeles. She has visited 62 U.S. national parks (with only American Samoa National Park to go). Her book, Feral: Losing Myself and Finding My Way in America’s National Parks, is due out in February (Little A/Amazon Publishing).

women in camper with sequoias
Van life: Ave Karp, Emily Pennington, shown at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park during Pennington’s quest to visit all the national parks. (Photo: Courtesy Emily Pennington)

 

 

 

Lead Photo: Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection

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