Best National Park Lodges for a Drink


So you’ve spent the day traipsing great swaths of land, catching glimpses of bears and billygoats, staring up at sky-high waterfalls and down into prehistoric craters. You are, of course, exploring one of the great National Parks, America’s best idea. You’re also in need a cold one somethin’ fierce. Say hello to America’s second best idea: National Park Lodges. Grand, classic and unmistakably Americana, the National Park Lodges are worth a visit in and of themselves. Some have grand ballrooms, others have epic views, many have been featured in classic films, and all hit the spot after a long day on the trail. Here are some of our favorite National Park Lodges to grab a drink and let it all sink in.


Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park

Nothing gets your heart pumping like staring 8,500 feet straight down. Better get a drink to calm your nerves. Perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, the North Rim Lodge and Roughrider Saloon make for a pretty epic stop after hiking nearby Kaibab Trail. Grab a Dark n’ Stormy and see if your drink doesn’t predict the future: At over 1,000 ft higher than the South Rim, the North Rim is known for it’s unpredictable weather. Sit back in the stellar common room and watch a summer storm roll through, or lounge on the patio listening as the piñons and ponderosas whisper across the canyon. Open May 15 – October 15, so get a move on!


Stanley Hotel, Rocky Mountain National Park

Their slogan says it all, “7500 feet above the ordinary!” Sure, it’s the entrance of the rough n’ tumble Rockies, but make no mistake, the Stanley Hotel drips with glamour. Established in 1909 by a well-to-do yankee in search of a summer home, Freelan Oscar Stanley wanted his hotel to hold it’s own against the poshest hotels of the East Coast. Goal achieved, Mr. Stanley. Belly up to the Cascades Whiskey Bar and experience the Rockies the Stanley way – scotch in hand, beautiful views a plenty. The bar offers Colorado’s largest selection of whiskeys, bourbons and scotch (we like the Stanley Old Fashioned for the black walnut bitters), and a healthy dose of paranormal activity. In 1974 Stephen King spent some time at the Stanley Hotel and came up with a story about a haunted mountain hotel plagued by unkind spirits… perhaps your second drink will be The Shining Redrum Punch…


Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park

Sitting on the deck at Crater Lake Lodge, beer in hand and good friends at your side, you think to yourself, “Well this is pleasant.” But as you look down to the crystal blue lake below, you realize just how terrifying this place really is: You are teetering on the edge of a massive caldera, just a step away from falling into the deepest lake in the United States which, only 8,000 years ago, was a massive volcano. So it’s okay if you’re feeling a little jumpy all of a sudden. But by your second beer you’ve come to grips with the fact that you’re having happy hour on the edge of an abyss.Grab a flight of local Oregonian beers on tap and watch the lake change as the sun sets. No reservations.


Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite National Park

No “Best of” list would be complete without mentioning the beloved Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly  the Awahnee Hotel) at the heart of Yosemite Valley. Where else can you sip champagne and gaze upon Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point? Sitting in the great dining room, you can’t help but sit up a little straighter and tap into your inner President Roosevelt – no matter how sweaty you were just a few hours ago. Towering 34-ft ceilings, glowing chandeliers and enormous pine rafters evoke the great pioneer days of yore. But unlike the mountain men and women who came before us, you can’t just roll in off the wagon. Men are required to wear long pants and shirts with a collar, while ladies are asked to cover their knees and shoulders. It’s a small price to pay for an evening in one of America’s grandest hotels.


Hermit’s Rest, Grand Canyon National Park

Ok, so Hermit’s Rest isn’t actually a National Park Lodge at all, but bear with us. Originally commissioned by the first tourism companies in the west, Hermit’s Rest was built in 1914 as a rest stop for weary coach travelers. They’d stretch their legs, peruse the native crafts sold on site, and warm themselves by a the fireplace during the colder months. Sure, it’s not an authentic historical ruin and the whole thing is a little kitschy, but there’s something kind of sweet about 1920’s Americana tourism marketing. There’s still a good snack bar to grab a can of cold beer and it makes for a great photo-op. What more could you want on a road trip pit-stop?

Best National Parks to Visit in April

With April 20-28 (2019) marking National Park Week, there’s no better time to check out some of our nation’s greatest treasures. Get to your nearest national park, forest, river or lake, or adventure on to one of our favorite National Parks to visit in April…

Joshua Tree
Photo cred: Ann Kathrin Bopp


Joshua Tree National Park takes your breath away the first time you see it with your own eyes. Sure, you’ve seen the giant rock cathedrals and Seussical J-trees in pictures, but you can’t fully grasp the awesomeness of these bizarre formations until they’re right in front of you. With hundreds of trails, thousands of official climbing routes and even more unofficial bouldering routes, Joshua Tree lives up to the hype. Though a relatively small national park, it’s the meeting point of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and offers great variation in ecosystems. Explore the prickly cholla (pronounced “choy-ya”) garden and keep going to check out the ocotillo cactuses (both of which may be in bloom in April), scramble around Jumbo Rocks and make your way into the Fortynine Palms Oasis. You might have some trouble booking a campsite last minute, but there are plenty of first-come first serve sites and designated areas for hike-in backpacking (even as close as .5 miles from your car). Pack up and go, wherever you are.


Grand Teton
Photo cred: Makenzie Cooper


Grand Teton National Park is something to behold any time of the year, but when the spring sunshine hits the mountains and greets the buds below, there’s nothing like it. Head out to the lake shore trails and enjoy a stroll by Jenny Lake or String Lake. Bradley and Taggart Lakes are mellow lowland hiking options early in the season. And when the sun goes down and you’re left to reflect, best to do it over a killer Jackson Hole burger. Be sure to check road conditions and road status before heading up to Grand Teton. It’s not uncommon for a late spring snow storm to close roads, even after they’ve opened for the season. Be aware of the possibility for inclement weather any time of year. This is the Wild West, after all.


Photo cred: Hunter Wiseley


Massive sandstone cliffs, never-ending slot canyons, green and pink vistas—there’s no shortage of “WHOA” in Zion National Park, southwestern Utah’s bragging rights territory. Within its 229 square miles are high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep, sandstone canyons, the Virgin River and its tributaries, 2,000-foot Navajo Sandstone cliffs, and countless waterfalls supporting lush hanging gardens. And all those wonders are magnified when spring has sprung. Like natural springs? They burst from cracks, running to the Virgin River. Like springtime blooms? The cottonwood trees blossom and begin to show some color. Like hiking? Most of the main canyon and the Upper East Canyon are hikeable, but the Kolob Terrace and Lava Point may remain buried in snow until late April or May. Either way, you’ll be busy saying “WHOA!”

Photo cred: Andrew Nee


Just 75 miles from downtown DC you’ll find yourself at the top of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, overlooking cascading valleys enfolding the Appalachian Trail. Shenandoah is known for it’s gorgeous fall foliage, but trust us – it’s just as spectacular in spring! Bike or drive historic Skyline Drive and rest at overlooks along the route positioned above the sprawling valley. Paddle along the Shenandoah River, take your adventure underground to the nearby Luray Caverns, or lace up your kicks and explore more than 500 miles of trail networks, including the most challenging hike in the area, Old Rag Loop. Whatever you do, catch a sunrise and sunset in the same day—your soul will thank you.


Great Sand Dunes
Photo cred: Lionello DelPiccolo


Sure the Rockies are pretty great, but one of Colorado’s lesser known National Parks is just as awesome: Great Sand Dunes National Park. The Great Dunes, North America’s tallest sand dunes, rise more than 750 feet, with the Sangre de Cristo Range as the backdrop.  These dunes are simply phenomenal, especially at dusk. Spend the night at Zapara Falls, just 11 miles south of the park, but bring an extra blanket because at 9,000 feet it can get chilly. When you’ve had your fill of the dunes, get a taste of the jagged peaks of the Sangres from the Comanche-Venable Trail loop near Westcliffe.

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