The 10 best places to stay in US national parks

Something magical happens in US national parks when day-trip guests depart. It’s a moment where you feel like you have one of the most majestic places on earth all to yourself.

Our readers’ 10 Favorite Places to Stay put you in the middle of some of the country’s most popular national parks. They offer unparalleled views, tranquil mornings and evenings, and delicious dining options.

YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park

YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park

Photo credit: YMCA of the Rocky Mountains

1. YMCA Of The Rockies (Winner)

Rocky Mountain National Park

With no lodging available (other than camping) in Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies is one of the closest places to stay when visiting. YMCA of the Rockies actually borders the national park on three sides. It’s also one of the more affordable options on the list. Location and affordability are two of the main reasons it tops our list.

Guests can choose from two- to five-bedroom cabins, lodge-style hotel rooms, yurts, and campsites. Activities include archery, a rock climbing wall, roller skating, horseback riding, crafts, photography and yoga. There are additional costs for some activities.

At the end of the day, relax by the fire pit, enjoy some customs and share tales of your adventures.

Bright Angel Lodge, part of the Grand Canyon Lodges Collection

Bright Angel Lodge, part of the Grand Canyon Lodges Collection

Photo credit: Grand Canyon National Park Lodges

2. Grand Canyon Lodge

Grand Canyon National Park

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon receives only 10 percent of all visitors to Grand Canyon National Park and offers 100 percent of the same incredible views. Grand Canyon Lodge offers its guests cabin and motel style accommodations. From breakfast to dinner, enjoy a meal in the main dining room or indulge in a morning burrito or afternoon cocktail and snacks in the Roughrider Saloon. Guests love to relax in the Adirondack chairs on the patio while taking in the stunning canyon views.

The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim and is closed to visitors from December 1st to May 15th each year.

Note: At this time, Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim is closed due to a damaged water main. The opening of the lodge is planned for the end of July.

Wooden walkway in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Wooden walkway in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Credit: Alexandre.ROSA /

3. Volcano House

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Volcano House in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park transports you to the edge of the Kilauea Volcano. The lodge has 33 guest rooms with 10 cabins and campgrounds nearby. The rooms are cozy and comfortable with beautiful wooden furniture. When you enter the lobby, be sure to go to the fireplace. You will see the goddess Pele in the lava rock. The stunning location is matched only by incredible Hawaiian hospitality. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at The Rim after exploring the various hiking trails that can be accessed near Volcano House.

Kilauea is Hawaii’s most active volcano, but don’t let that put you off. However, if you believe in ghosts, some say that Volcano House is haunted by an elderly woman. Some also said they saw the figure of a white dog on the road to the hotel.

At the Old Faithful Inn

At the Old Faithful Inn

Photo credit: Xanterra Travel Collection

4. Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone National Park

A stay at the Old Faithful Inn gives guests access to Yellowstone National Park’s geyser area, where few other park visitors get to enjoy a view of the geysers without the crowds. While guests book a stay to see the world’s most famous geyser, they’re sure to be impressed by the inn itself.

The inn opened in 1904 and is one of the largest log buildings in the world. Walk through the distinctive red doors and just look up. The lobby is 76 feet tall and features a huge stone fireplace and wrought iron clock as a centerpiece. Take a seat in one of the rocking chairs and admire the unique wooden beams, ceilings, stairs and railings. There is also an Old Faithful clock in the lobby that predicts the next geyser eruption.

The inn is open from the beginning of May to the beginning of October and free tours are offered daily. Select tours are offered at the inn for a fee, or you can rent bikes at the nearby Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon National Park

El Tovar Hotel at dusk

Photo credit: El Tovar Hotel

5. El Tovar Hotel

Grand Canyon National Park

A historic hotel perfectly located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the El Tovar Hotel transports you back in time as you walk through the lobby door. It opened in 1905 with a design inspired by Scandinavian hunting lodges and Swiss chalets.

Today the hotel offers 78 rooms, 12 suites, a dining room with a fantastic menu and wine list and an incomparable view. The hotel is just steps from the popular Bright Angel Trailhead, Hopi House and train depot, and a short walk from park headquarters via the Rim Trail.

It’s difficult to pick the best amenity in El Tovar, but it can be the peaceful mornings and evenings and the darkest nights. Guests can enjoy the sunrise, sunset, and stargazing opportunities that most visitors miss.

6. The Ahwahnee

Yosemite National Park

The Ahwahnee is probably the most luxurious hotel on the list. While the others have a wonderfully rustic charm, the Ahwahnee’s upscale vibe begins as soon as you walk the red carpet into the hotel. The lobby floors and ceilings are decorated with Native American motifs. Beautiful stained glass windows can be seen above the windows in the large lounge.

From the hotel, guests can view the majestic Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Yosemite National Park’s Glacier Point. The beautiful dining area features high beamed ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing guests not to miss a moment and enjoy the stunning views surrounding the lodge.

Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park

Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park

Credit: Kit Leong /

7. Many Glacier Hotel

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is blessed with several lodging options within the park and two are National Historic Hotels – Lake McDonald Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel. Many Glacier is located in the northeast portion of the park, nestled on Swiftcurrent Lake and surrounded by the park’s dramatic peaks. Enjoy a boat tour, kayak or canoe from the shore of the lake.

Many Glacier Hotel features 205 beautiful, rustic guest rooms. You won’t find a TV or air conditioning, and you probably won’t miss either. There are two dining options that will satisfy even the most discerning palate. The lodge is open from early June to early September.

8.Zion Lodge

Zion National Park

Zion Lodge is the only accommodation in Zion National Park. A huge benefit, especially from March to November when park visitors have to use the shuttle to get into the park. Located in beautiful Zion Canyon, the lodge offers hotel-style rooms and cabins. There are several trailheads nearby and a shuttle bus will take you to other trailheads. Alternatively, you can bring your bike and cycle the entire scenic 7-mile route.

In the evenings, relax on your patio and marvel at the sandstone walls that surround you while wildlife strolls by. The rooms are rustic but well equipped and provide the perfect setting for your stay in Zion. Dine all day at the delicious Red Rock Grill or have breakfast en route at the Castle Dome Café.

Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park

Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park

Credit: Jeffrey M. Frank /

9. Chisos Mountains Lodge

Big Bend National Park

Chisos Mountains Lodge is the only accommodation in Big Bend National Park. It’s basic but offers the views you would expect from accommodation in the park. The sunsets are particularly spectacular. Location is key when staying here, as the nearest accommodation options – other than camping – are about 30 miles away.

The lodge consists of several buildings and when staying here unplugging is almost a must. There are no TVs or phones in the rooms, and cell service is limited. If required, WLAN is available on the premises.

The lodge is open all year round and rooms fill up very quickly, with spring and autumn being the most popular times to visit.

10. Yellowstone Canyon Lodge

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Canyon Lodge is the largest property in Yellowstone National Park and is close to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and its dramatic Upper and Lower Falls.

The property includes seven different lodges and cabins with more than 500 rooms. Five of the lodges only opened in 2016 and are LEED certified, meaning the facilities were built using sustainable practices. Bathroom countertops are also made from recycled materials, as are wooden fixtures and accents throughout the property.

Guests describe the rooms as comfortable with rustic charm. Canyon Village has several dining options, including an ice cream shop, that kids of all ages will love!

Pro tip: El Tovar, Old Faithful Inn, Zion Lodge and Many Glacier are listed as Historic Hotels of America. Reserving a room at one of the lodges can be challenging as you need to be online exactly when reservations open, especially if you are traveling in high season.

Check out all of our readers’ picks for the 2023 Best Of Travel Awards, including top 8 glamping experiences in the US, our top 15 US National Parks to visit, top 15 hikes in US National Parks, the 14 best hidden gem national parks in the US and the 14 best national parks outside of the US and the 15 best state parks in the US

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