An overnight stay at a national park lodge is an excellent way to make the most of any national park visit. Although some lodgings outside national parks tout their offerings as more affordable than the in-park properties, that’s not always the case. Additionally, staying overnight in a national park can save you time, gas, and even energy. With that in mind, here are five reasons to choose an in-park lodging on your next national park vacation.
Access is a Top Priority
National park concessionaires are required to provide a certain level of wheelchair-access, especially when additions and renovations are involved. The National Park Service takes access seriously – so much so that it’s specifically spelled out in their concessionaire contracts. As a result, national park concessionaire Aramark recently built two wheelchair-accessible cabins at Log Cabin Resort in Olympic National Park, and added access features to Mother Curry’s historic cabin in Yosemite National Park. And over in Grand Canyon National Park, the Xanterra Travel Collection is making access a top priority in their construction project at Maswik Lodge.
Enjoy an Evening Program
It’s easier to take advantage of some of the free national park evening programs if you spend the night at a national park lodge. For example, Shenandoah National Park has a wonderful night sky program, where amateur astronomers set up their telescopes and encourage visitors to enjoy the night sky away from city light pollution. And although the program takes place in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s just a short walk away from Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.
Beat the Crowds
The best way to beat the crowds at national parks is to arrive early in the morning, and that’s much easier to do if you stay overnight in the park. The crowds drastically increase after 10, when a lot of tour buses also appear. For example in Grand Canyon National Park, it’s almost impossible to enjoy Hermit Road during peak season in the afternoons. The shuttle buses are full and private vehicles are not permitted along the route. If however you get an early start, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience. Even better, it’s just a short walk to a shuttle bus stop from any of the park lodges, and five of the lodges have wheelchair-accessible rooms.
Take A Break
It’s easy to overdo things on a vacation, and sometimes you just need to take a little break and rest a bit. And that’s easy to do if you stay at a national park lodge. Many national park lodges also offer scenic surroundings to enjoy your down time . Take Zion Lodge for example – the wheelchair-accessible cabin is at the far end of the lodge and it offers an unobstructed view of the magnificent red rock canyon. It also has a nice front porch, where you can kick back and enjoy it all.
Last but certainly not least, most of the popular national parks have rooms in all price ranges, and some national park concessionaires even have programs in place that offer competitively priced rooms. For example, Curry Village in Yosemite National Park offers affordable family accommodations, while the luxurious Ahwahnee offers high end rooms with prices to match. And over in Yellowstone National Park, the Xanterra Travel Collection prices 1,076 of their in-park rooms at rates comparable to those found in the surrounding gateway communities. It’s truly the best of both worlds – a national park location at city prices – but you do have to book early to take advantage of these great bargains.