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    Great National Park Lodges

    By By Andrea Cooper
    June 05, 2013, 5:57:28 AM EDT

    You pull yourself out of bed, bring your coffee to the front porch, and there—right in front of you—is the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon.

    That’s the appeal of staying at El Tovar, which has graced the rim of the canyon since 1905. But it’s hardly alone; you’ll find great national park lodges all over the U.S. and Canada. And staying at one doesn’t mean camping and freeze-dried dinners. The best lodges offer gourmet food, personalized service, and rustic yet often elegant interiors.


    Many are landmarks dating back to the park system’s early days. In 1903, officials at the Northern Pacific Railroad were inspired to create a lodge with local logs and stone. The result, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, has a towering lobby that became a model for national park architecture. For something a bit more modern, try the 23 renovated suites and heated outdoor pool at Alta Crystal Resort by Mount Rainier, WA.

    You might even encounter a celebrity or prime minister during your stay. (The El Tovar staff once had to hush Paul McCartney because a guest complained about his piano playing.) But that doesn’t mean the prices are out of reach. Double rooms start at about $180 at El Tovar and $165 at Oregon’s Crater Lake Lodge.

    Find out how the right lodge will improve your next national park visit.

    The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, CA


    Art Deco, Native American, Middle Eastern, and Arts and Crafts influences all contributed to this 1927 landmark’s design. More recently, a renovation drew upon Yosemite’s historical archives to determine appropriate textiles and colors, giving an English country-house look to the interiors—rich tapestries, stained glass, and hand-stenciled beams. The most elaborate rooms feature balconies and views of Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, or Half Dome. After a day in the great outdoors, take your complimentary afternoon tea on the patio overlooking Glacier Point.

    Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, MT


    Evening glacier tours are, naturally, one of the popular activities during a stay here. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, the hotel feels like a Swiss chalet, with windows opening to Swiftcurrent Lake and a dramatic lobby with tree trunks as the support poles. Opt for a suite with lake view and balcony, or a refurbished lakeside room. Then go outside and fly-fish in a setting that will soothe your soul, or take the ferry across the lake and hike to Grinnell Glacier.

    Glacier Bay’s Bear Track Inn, Glacier Bay National Park, AK


    Yes, you really can see black bears and moose from your bedroom at this gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. Guests praise the personal service—look for appetizers and homemade cookies each afternoon—and innkeepers can help arrange excursions from watching humpback whales to taking a dogsled ride. Ice climbing, fresh- and salt-water fishing, guided kayak trips, and visits to Admiralty Island to view brown bears are also popula. On your return, sink into the suede sofas and warm yourself by the lobby fireplace.

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