The best hidden gem national park lodging

National parks are meant to be an immersive experience for travelers. Surrounded by crisp fresh air, every traveler can leave behind the buzz and rush of their daily lives. National parks are havens that remind us to enjoy the little things. Like the sound of birds in the trees or the quietness that falls after the sun sets. The healing effects of visiting a national park are even more effective when visitors take the time to camp or stay within the park. In the wee hours of the morning and evening, wildlife emerges to feast and overnight visitors get first dibs on the best expansive views. No crowds. Complete solitude. Peace. Treat yourself to a once in a lifetime experience by staying at one of these hidden gem national park lodgings. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I receive a commission. This comes at no extra cost to you. 

Photo courtesy of Julia at Well Planned Journey: View of the Many Glacier Hotel on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Many Glacier Hotel at Glacier National Park 

Recommended by Julia at Well Planned Journey 

A stay at the Many Glacier Hotel is an essential part of any Glacier National Park itinerary  This historic swiss-chalet style lodge is the largest in Glacier National Park. The back porch of the Many Glacier Hotel overlooks Swiftcurrent Lake. This is one of the best spots in the park for both sunrise and sunset! 

The Many Glacier Hotel is the hub for adventures on the east side of Glacier National Park. Some of the park’s best trails start here! You can hike up to Grinnell Glacier or make the trek out to Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel. Don’t miss the Glacier Park Boat Company tour which ventures across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine.

After a long day of hiking, enjoy a locally-sourced meal at the Ptarmigan Dining Room

Glacier National Park is covered in snow from fall to spring. During this offseason, the lodge is maintained by a winter caretaker (eerily similar to the plot of The Shining). Many Glacier is only accessible from July to mid-September. Since it has such a short season, you’ll have to book a stay at the Many Glacier Hotel at least a year in advance.

Photo courtesy of Jessica at Unearth the Voyage: The stylish and modern rooms at the Hale Hotel located on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park.

Hotel Hale at Hot Springs National Park 

Recommended by Jessica at Unearth the Voyage 

In the heart of bathhouse row in Hot Springs National Park is one of the most unique hidden gem lodging experiences at any national park. Hotel Hale was once one of many bathhouses built right on top of the natural hot springs in the area that served as healing centers in the days before penicillin. Like the other bathhouses, The Hale closed its doors and sat vacant for many years under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.

Today, the Hale’s future is back and looking brighter than ever. The bathhouse was converted into a hotel with nine beautiful rooms, each with its own hot spring-fed tub that brings the same crystal clear (super hot!) mineral water. Travelers once came from all over the country to experience these restorative hot baths, which are now right conveniently inside your room. While many of the bathhouses at Hot Springs National Park have been converted into something new, The Hale is the only bathhouse that you can now spend the night in. The Hale is also walking distance from many of the other great things to do in Hot Springs National Park making it one of the most unique and convenient national park lodging experiences available. 

The back exterior of the Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park. The perfect hidden gem getaway to explore off-the-beaten-path trails.

Quinault Lodge at Olympic National Park 

Usually, it seems that lodges are reserved for mountain summits and overlooking thick, lush forests. Even though it is not situated at the summit of snowy peaks, the Quinault Lodge is the perfect hidden gem national park lodge to avoid the crowds and relax in nature.

The Quinault Lodge hugs Lake Quinault the gateway to Olympic National Park‘s temperate rainforest. This quaint yet elegant lodge is a hiker’s dream, surrounded by trails thick with rainforest foliage. It’s a rare sight to stumble across other hikers on the lake trails making this lodge a hidden gem away from all the hustle and bustle of the park. 

Visitors definitely need to savor the impeccable flavors whipped up in the Quinault Lodge’s Roosevelt Dining Room. Plates of savory salmon and polenta and decadent marionberry cobbler will tickle your tastebuds and entice you back again and again. 

Make sure you take the time to order a steaming cup of tea or a well-bodied glass of wine and enjoy it on the lawn of the lodge. Or, if the weather is too chilly, take your drinks by the fireplace. Listen to visitors test out the piano’s keys and families gathering for a friendly competition of Monopoly or the Game of Life. In the wee hours of the night and morning, couples cluster around the stone fireplace and talk in hushed whispers. 

Even though the experience comes with a moderate price tag, it is an experience that you’ll remember for years to come. 

Photo courtesy of Erin at Go Hike Virginia: Sunset at Shenandoah National Park.

Skyland Resort at Shenandoah National Park

Recommended by Erin at Go Hike Virginia 

Skyland Resort is the larger of two lodges inside Shenandoah National Park with 179 guest rooms, rustic-chic cabins and modern suites. Situated at 3,680 feet, the main lodge sits atop the highest point on iconic Skyline Drive in the park’s Central District. The colorful sunset views from the lodge patio are among the best in the park.

During our stay, we loved convenient access to several of the best Shenandoah National Park hikes, including the ‘gram-worthy Stony Man and Millers Head Trails. Both hikes dazzle with far-reaching views across the foliage-filled Shenandoah Valley. Guests can also book guided horseback trail rides with Skyland Stables or sign up for rock climbing classes.

At the on-site restaurant, Pollock Dining Room, it’s easy to be tempted by regional specialties, like sweet potato poutine and pan-seared trout. For dessert, a slice of mile-high blackberry ice cream pie is an absolute must while gazing out an elegant wall of windows.

For those eager to tackle a section of the 101 miles of Appalachian Trail that meander through Shenandoah National Park, the park offers a lodge to lodge package. The three-night Appalachian Trail Package includes one night at Skyland Resort.

Photo courtesy of Heather from That OC Girl: One of the dog-friendly rooms at the Yavapai Lodge at Grand Canyon National Park.

Yavapai Lodge at Grand Canyon National Park 

Recommended by Heather from That OC Girl 

Yavapai Lodge is the only pet-friendly hotel in Grand Canyon National Park. It is located at the South Rim, which is the most popular area of the Grand Canyon. Just five minutes from the Grand Canyon Village and within walking distance to trails and scenic views, Yavapai Lodge is in a prime location. Keep an eye out for elk around the lodge – you may be able to spot some roaming around. 

The west section of the lodge was updated in 2020, so you can enjoy new rooms that are modern and clean, as well as air-conditioned. The rooms are basic but have everything you need including a mini-fridge and a large dog crate. A restaurant, tavern, coffee shop and gift shop are also on the property.

During your stay at Yavapai Lodge make sure to drive through Desert View Drive. This scenic route has 25 miles to explore with six major lookout points that will give you amazing views of the Grand Canyon. If you prefer to do something a little more active, hike the Rim Trail or bike Hermit Road. 

Photo courtesy of David from Your Ireland Vacation: A snow-dusted view of the Grand Canyon.

Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins at Grand Canyon National Park

Recommended by David from Your Ireland Vacation 

Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins is one of six in-park hotel options at the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Originally designed as a hotel, the lodge has changed appearance many times over the years to become what is now one of the most unique places to stay at the South Rim. The lodge is open year-round and has a rustic feel. Relaxing in the foyer with the large open fire is the best way to wind down after long days exploring the views of the Grand Canyon.

The Bright Angel Lodge includes both lodge rooms and cabins which are adjacent to the lodge. The lodge is within close proximity to the rim of the canyon and guests are just steps from stunning views of the early morning sun hitting the canyon walls. The cabins have recently been refurbished to ensure you have everything needed for a comfortable stay.

There is no shortage of things to see around the lodge, including one of the most popular hikes in the park, the Rim Hike. The hike passes in front of the lodge and continues on to some epic viewpoints. One of the most famous trails at Grand Canyon National park, the Bright Angel trail, also starts at the lodge.

Photo courtesy of Noel from Travel Photo Discovery: A piano player at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

 

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park 

Recommended by Noel at Travel Photo Discovery 

One of the most iconic national park lodges in the United States is located in Yosemite National Park. The Ahwahnee Hotel is named after the local Native tribe Ahwahnechee, who also goes by  Awahnichi, which translates to “People of the Mouth.” The hotel pays homage to the Ahwahnechee and is considered a National Historic Landmark.

The Ahwahnee Hotel is a stunning landmark property located in the Yosemite Valley. The architecture of the lodge was heavily influenced by the park’s surrounding beauty. With gorgeous views of the valley and the nearby Yosemite Falls, the hotel is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the outdoor splendor. 

Grandeur is the simplest way to describe the Ahwahnee Hotel. With impressive high ceilings and monumentally beautiful fires, the timber lodge is nothing short of exquisite and pristine. Beautiful large lounge areas in western motif and large wooden timbers also grace the lodge’s historic interior. Another sparkling gem in the hotel is the grand dining room, which serves an elegant Sunday brunch that shouldn’t be missed. 

Located close to Yosemite Village, the main attractions are a short trip from the hotel on the local tram, including stops at Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome. Aching for hikes off the beaten path? A longer, more challenging hike worth taking during your visit is to Glacier Point. The hike to Glacier Point is mostly uphill with switchback trails that feature stunning views of the valley floor and the major monuments in the park. 

Finish your day by watching the sunset from Glacier Point, and head back to an elegant hotel to grab a delicious dinner. Your stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel will feel nothing short of luxurious. 

Photo courtesy of Elaine from The Whole World is a Playground: The impressive stone exterior of the Zion Lodge backdropped by Zion National Park’s iconic red cliffs.

Zion Lodge at Zion National Park 

Recommended by Elaine at The Whole World is a Playground

Located in the heart of Zion National Park, the historic Zion Lodge is the only in-park accommodation available in the park. Surrounded by Zion’s trademark soaring red cliffs, the lodge is a perfect retreat after a day exploring the Zion trails. Unlike other national park lodges, this hidden gem is open year-round to visitors. 

The Zion Lodge was built in 1925 after a railway line to the nearby Cedar City made Zion more accessible. A fire destroyed the main lodge in 1966, but due to its significance, the lodge was quickly restored and continues to be an oasis or hikers. 

The lodge is well located close to the trailheads on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and many of the best things to do in Zion National Park are within easy reach. The lodge is serviced by the Zion Shuttle Bus (there is a stop outside the lodge) and is within walking distance of popular hikes including the iconic Angels Landing and West Rim trailhead. Guests have a choice of spacious cabin style lodgings or more modern hotel rooms and suites with a cozy, off-the-grid feel.

Relax and slow down at the Zion Lodge. You might even be lucky enough in the evenings to see deer meandering through the grounds.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I receive a commission. This comes at no extra cost to you. 

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About the Author

Quirky Globetrotter

Hi! I'm Martha! The mastermind behind Quirky Globetrotter a feminist travel blog. Quirky Globetrotter is devoted to telling narratives devoted to female solo travel and hidden gems worldwide with an emphasis on intersectional feminism and how that impacts travel on a global and local level.

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