These classic buildings are so lovely they'll tempt you to skip the hike.
Photo creditPhoto: David Berry/Wikimedia Commons
Photo creditPhoto: Glacier National Park Inc.
Photo creditPhoto: Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons
Photo creditPhoto: Acroterion/Wikipedia
Photo creditPhoto: Wolfgang Moroder/Wikimedia Commons
We go to the West’s national parks and monuments to get outside and see natural beauty. But there’s a handful of lodges so spectacular, so romantic, and so well-matched to the scenery, that they demand some indoor sightseeing as well.
The interior of Yosemite National Park’s 1927 Ahwahnee Hotel is a medley of art deco, arts and crafts, and American Indian styles that together amplify the astounding cliffs all around. Inside, the best view is through the towering windows of the rustically civilized dining room, preferably taken in while casually sipping a cup of coffee. (801) 559-4949, yosemitepark.com.
Perched on the lip of the South Rim, El Tovar lets guests wake up to one of Grand Canyon National Park’s grandest views. Built in 1905 with local rock in the style of a Swiss chalet, the lodge blends into the scenery thanks to its low, steplike architecture that mimics the ledges below. (303) 297-2757, grandcanyonlodges.com.
Massive three-story Douglas firs covered in bark form a grand and woodsy colonnade within the sunlight-filled lobby of Glacier Park Lodge. The hotel is still as dazzling a sight as it was in 1913, when it first welcomed cross-country rail passengers into Glacier National Park and the vast scenery of the West. (406) 892-2525, glacierparkinc.com.
The Chateau at the Oregon Caves straddles a steep-sloped creek bed at the mouth of Oregon Caves National Monument. Outside, its jagged and asymmetrical roofline echoes the rocky setting, and its cedar bark siding is as gorgeously shaggy as it was on opening day in 1934. Inside, guests play games near the giant stone fireplace, tree trunks serve as posts and beams in the framework, and a rivulet of Caves Creek runs right through the middle of the dining room. (541) 592-3400, oregoncaveschateau.com.
With its elegant white columns and broad porch, the colonial revival Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Yellowstone National Park offers guests a quiet retreat from the bustling scene at Old Faithful. After a recent renovation, the building gleams with old-school charm, drawing guests to the sunroom for views of the largest lake in the park—and maybe a mint julep? (307) 344-7311, yellowstonenationalparklodges.com.
This article was first published in July 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.