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10 Incredible National Park Lodges in the U.S. (and the Best Time to Book Them)

Some stand out for their incredible architecture and history, others for their seclusion and uniqueness. Either way you’ll find inspiration and an incredible national park lodge for your next adventure.

Plus, did some digging to find the most affordable season to visit each of these popular U.S. national parks.

The Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley National Park, California

oasis at death valley

[st_content_ad]Whether you’re headed to Death Valley for stargazing or to see the famous spring wildflowers, you’ll want to stay at The Oasis. This national park has extremes in every sense of the word: heat, dryness, and it’s also below sea level. Plus, the Oasis is the only in-park lodging option here. There are four different types of accommodations to choose from: the resort, the ranch, the campground, and new-this-year, stand-alone inn casitas. The property also has a pool, golf course, saloon, shopping area, restaurants, and surrounding gardens and is going through a complete renovation in 2018. 

Blackberry Farm, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

blackberry farm

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park, and for good reason. With over 800 square miles, the Appalachian mountain range spans across two states. If you’re looking for a unique national park lodging option when visiting, consider Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. This luxury farm-style resort is about 15-miles (or 20-minute drive) from the less crowded, western entrance of the national park and sits in the foothills of the world-famous mountains, so you know it has killer views. The property itself has more than nine miles of trails and also offers guided hikes and other outdoor activities like fly fishing, horseback riding, and even paintballing and archery. Other amenities include a renowned fine-dining restaurant, spa, pool, and suite options.    

When to book Great Smoky Mountains National Park: February is the most affordable time to visit, with a 33 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, October.

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Cedar Pass Lodge, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Cedar pass lodge

For a less-crowded national park, check out South Dakota’s Badlands. It’s a unique landscape with grasslands, eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires, as well as the Great Sioux Reservation. The only in-park lodge, Cedar Pass Lodge, has new, eco-friendly cabins that mimic the surrounding environment and have en-suite bathrooms (an uncommon feature at many national park lodges). Guests rave about the on-site restaurant, especially the Sioux Tacos, a regional favorite. 

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Moab Under Canvas, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Utah

Moab under canvas

The glamping trend is a fitting lodging experience for national parks, and nothing screams “Instagram post” more than a safari tent overlooking Utah’s famous rock formations. Located only a few miles from the entrance of both Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Moab Under Canvas offers luxury camping with fully furnished tents and attached bathrooms.

When to book Arches/Canyonlands National Park: January is the most affordable time to visit, with a 63 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, September.

The Sheldon Chalet, Denali National Park, Alaska

The sheldon chalet

The 92-mile long Denali Park Road is on most outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list, however, there are only 1,600 permits issued each year. For a truly, out-of-this-world experience you can book the Sheldon Chalet. Located on private land in the middle of the national park, you have to take a helicopter to get here. And while the hotel isn’t in most traveler’s budget, it might just be the easiest (and most exclusive) way to experience Denali, the Northern Lights, and the Don Sheldon Amphitheater.

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Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

old faithful inn

Take one step into the lobby here and you’ll be instantly transported to the Wild, Wild West. The incredible multi-level, open-air lobby made from logs and stone is part of the historic hotel famously known as Old Faithful Inn. While the rooms have standard furnishings and decor, it’s really the hotel’s location that can’t be beat. Crested Pool, Old Faithful, and Castle Geyser are only a 10-minute walk away, and Morning Glory Pool and Kepler Cascades are about 2.5-miles away.

When to book Yellowstone National Park: April is the most affordable time to visit, with a 60 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, July. 

Triangle X Ranch, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

triangle x ranch

You can check two items off your travel wish list by staying in a national park and on a dude ranch simultaneously, at Triangle X. Choose from a ranch experience, river trip, or wilderness adventure. Riders of all skill levels are welcome and the summer season runs from mid-May through October. Other activities include wildlife viewing, cookouts, square dancing, fishing, floating trips along the Snake River, and of course, unmatched views of the Tetons. In the winter, the ranch is still open and offers activities like snowmobiling, cross country skiing, as well as day trips to nearby Jackson Hole.

When to book Grand Teton National Park: November is the most affordable time to visit, with a 58 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, August.

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Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, California

rush creek lodge

For a family-friendly vacation to Yosemite, check out Rush Creek Lodge. It’s just a half mile away from the 120 West entrance. The best part of this national park lodge is that it offers guided recreation tours and excursions as well as free planning advice and guidance if you’re looking to explore the park on your own. For accommodations, you can pick between a standard room, suite, or a one- or two-bedroom villa. Amenities include a tavern, restaurant, pool, game room, lounge, outdoor concerts, and nightly s’mores.

When to book Yosemite National Park: November is the most affordable time to visit, with a 35 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, July. 

Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

phantom ranch

If sleeping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is on your bucket-list, then your only option is the exclusive Phantom Ranch. And while it’s not exclusive for its amenities exactly, you do have to enter a lottery to stay here. To get here, you’ll have to hike or ride a mule down the 7.5-mile trail, or you can access the ranch by rafting along the Colorado River. If this sounds like a national park lodge for you, you can enter the lottery system here. Bookings are typically made about 10 months in advance.

When to book Grand Canyon National Park: February is the most affordable time to visit, with a 48 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, July.

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Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, Utah

zion lodge

As the only in-park lodging at Zion, Zion Lodge is located smack-dab in the middle of paradise. Rooms are cozy rustic, and even have a gas-powered fireplaces, as temperatures can get cool at night in the desert. Explore the park’s canyon walls via its hiking trails, bike rentals, or the tram ride along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (which is closed this summer); all activities can be easily arranged at the lodge.

When to book Zion National Park: January is the most affordable time to visit, with a 43 percent difference in price compared to the highest month, October.

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By Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

After interning at SmarterTravel, Ashley joined the team full time in 2015. She's lived on three continents, but still never knows where her next adventure will take her. She's always searching for upcoming destination hotspots, secluded retreats, and hidden gems to share with the world.

Ashley's stories have been featured online on USA Today, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Jetsetter, and Yahoo! Travel, as well as other publications.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A reusable filtered water bottle—it saves you money, keeps you hydrated, and eliminates waste—win-win."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "A week in a bamboo beach hut on India's Andaman Islands."

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