Craving solitude or looking to plan a romantic retreat? A private room in the heart of one of the country's most spectacular landscapes could be the answer. Check our staff picks for cozy lodgings in breathtaking national parks.
Note: Not all of these lodgings are open year-round, and many require making reservations months in advance. So if you’re looking for Valentine’s Day ideas, consider gift-wrapping a travel guide to help plan the perfect trip while you wait for a room!
1. Shawnee Inn
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania
This charming historic inn on the Delaware River offers a spa, golf course, indoor pool and restaurant with food from the site’s own garden, all in a picturesque setting in the foothills of the Poconos Mountains. Adventurers can try “glamping” (shown above) — relaxing in a fancy tent with electricity, Wi-Fi and other amenities — on the banks of the river, or on a private island.
2. The Inn at Furnace Creek
Death Valley National Park, California
A posh resort in the middle of one of the country’s hottest, most foreboding desert landscapes? It’s true. At the heart of this elegant location is a spring-fed pool with an adjacent garden of palms, all surrounded by the park’s colorful desert landscape. The inn itself is built in a Spanish mission style, with stucco walls and a red tile roof. The resort offers tennis courts, bocce, horseback riding, a sauna and professional massages, among other perks. The inn’s central location is ideal for exploring this 5,200-square-mile park, the largest in the Lower 48.
3. Sperry and Granite Park Chalets
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier offers several historic Swiss-style lodges, and each is romantic in its own way, but these popular hubs are large and bustling with visitors. Travelers looking for a cozier, more primitive experience can hike into the backcountry and opt for a simple hundred-year-old chalet nestled among the park’s majestic peaks. Note that both the Sperry* and Granite Park Chalets are only accessible by trails — reaching the Sperry Chalet requires a steep, 6.7-mile climb up a mountain — and neither have electricity, hot showers or flush toilets. But for those looking for a truly rustic experience, both chalets offer a remote, picturesque place to unplug and enjoy Glacier’s remarkable scenery.
*Update: We are deeply saddened to learn that on August 31, 2017, wildfires destroyed the Sperry Chalet, a National Historic Landmark beloved by generations of backcountry hikers since 1914. It is too soon to know if lodge will be rebuilt; on the chalet’s website, the owners say they are “grateful for the privilege of caring for Sperry Chalet and serving the visitors of Glacier National Park.”
4. The Inn at Brandywine Falls
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
This restored farmhouse within walking distance of the 67-foot Brandywine Falls is furnished with comfortable antiques and plenty of local character. Innkeepers Katie and George Hoy have been operating the bed and breakfast for more than 28 years, and the couple offers friendly company and fantastic family-style breakfasts. Stay in the main house, with its charming veranda and library, or opt for one of the two lavish detached suites — the Granary or the Loft — each outfitted with a Jacuzzi, a wood-burning stove and other elegant comforts.
5. The Roosevelt Stone Cottages at Chisos Mountain Lodge
Big Bend National Park, Texas
The Civilian Conservation Corps built these five stone cottages in the 1930s, and the simple lodgings are some of the most sought-after rooms in all of Texas. The historic charm of the flagstone floors and adobe walls are surely romantic, but a big part of the appeal is outside of the lodgings themselves: Visitors are treated to unobstructed views of the park’s famous Window formation. The centrally located cabins are near the only restaurant in the park, as well as trailheads to a variety of hiking options in the Chisos Mountain basin. Note: There are no televisions, phones or air conditioning in any of the cabins, although wireless service is available. Be prepared to book months in advance.
6. Charit Creek Lodge
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee
If your idea of romantic is remote, secluded and off the grid, this backcountry spot is for you. The site’s five cabins and its treetop tent are literally off the beaten path — getting to this peaceful river valley requires a hike of just over a mile on a trail that goes over a swinging bridge and past the Twin Arches, sandstone formations that are rare in this part of the country. Visitors can expect plenty of quiet and solitude. The site has no electricity and very little phone reception; wood-burning stoves are available for heat in the winter. The lodge owners provide family-style meals for guests, and with a few days’ notice and a small additional fee, the on-site pastry chef will even bake you a cake!
7. The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Distinguished national park architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed this rustic two-story lodge in the mid-1920s; the oversized log-framed building is now a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can book a room at the lodge itself, or for more privacy, stay in a cozy nearby cabin with a stone fireplace and private porch. Whichever you choose, you’ll be steps away from the park’s main amphitheater, featuring jaw-dropping overlooks and hiking options around the rim or down to the valley floor where you can walk among the greatest concentration of hoodoos in the world.
8. Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
This two-story lodge sits at the end of a road on the bank of a hot mineral spring in the middle of a quiet meadow — a location that is accessible but still feels out-of-the-way. Pioneer Edward Drake originally settled the land during the 1800s, and ailing schoolteacher Alexander Sifford purchased it and opened it as a bathhouse in the early 1900s, extolling the health benefits of the site’s waters years before the national park was officially established (the name derives from “Drake’s Baths”). Today, visitors can still soak in the spring’s soothing waters and take guided horseback rides through the park, hike the nearby Pacific Crest Trail and enjoy the park’s many remarkable geothermal features. The rooms themselves feature quaint country furnishings with patchwork quilts and gas lanterns in lieu of electric lights.
9. Bluff Cabins at Kalaloch Lodge
Olympic National Park, Washington
These weathered wood cabins sit on top of a bluff on Olympic’s wild coastline, just steps from the ocean. It’s the perfect base for a windswept getaway of hiking along the beach, tide-pooling, wandering through the lush woods, or just reading a book or watching the sun set while the waves crash along the shore. Some of the cabins offer fairly basic accommodations, whereas others have full kitchens and fireplaces. Nearby campsites are also available for those who prefer not to have walls between themselves and the roar of the tide.
10. Jenny Lake Lodge
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This swanky historic hotel started as a dude ranch in the 1920s and now offers updated amenities, including whirlpool tubs — although the real attraction is the lodge’s breathtaking location at the foot of the Teton Range in the middle of one of the most spectacular wildlife-watching areas in the country. The private cottages feature porches with rocking chairs to enjoy the spectacular views. Gourmet breakfasts and sumptuous five-course dinners are included with the room fee. Don’t turn down the huckleberry lemonade!
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Special thanks to the following colleagues who were willing to reveal their special hotels, cabins and inns for this feature: Joy Oakes, David Lamfrom, Michael Jamison, Lynn McClure, Suzanne Dixon, Don Barger, Cory MacNulty, Ron Sundergill, Graham Taylor and Sharon Mader.
About the author
Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications
Jennifer writes, edits and moderates online content for NPCA.
- Big Bend National Park
- Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area