Any mention of national park lodges causes most people to envision park icons such as Old Faithful Inn, El Tovar, Ahwahnee, or Many Glacier Hotel. These lodges are well-known, in part because they are magnificent historic structures whose photos are frequently seen in newspapers and magazines, on television, and the Internet. No matter where travelers stay in Yellowstone, they inevitably gravitate to Old Faithful Inn. Dozens of other national park lodges are scattered across the country, of course, although many receive little publicity and remain virtually unknown to many experienced travelers.
Last year the two of us authored Top Ten Unique National Park Lodges for Internet travel site Away.com. Although regular Traveler readers are knowledgeable about most lodging facilities located in our national parks, several of the ten lodges described in the Away.com article may be undiscovered gems for some of you. So here they are. For a more detailed description of these facilities plus five additional unusual lodges visit the Away.com site noted above.
1. Ross Lake Resort, North Cascades National Park Complex, Washington – An isolated row of floating cabins, bunkhouses, and support buildings along the shoreline of 22-mile-long Ross Lake. Guests must either hike 2 miles to a boat pick-up point across from the resort or utilize scheduled transportation by ferry/flatbed truck/speedboat to reach the resort. Cabins have kitchens but all food must be brought by guests.
2. The Inn at Brandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio – The only bed and breakfast in a national park, this pre-Civil War-era farmstead offers six rooms, four in the main house and two in the nearby carriage barn. Guests enjoy an excellent breakfast with the innkeepers who have operated this B&B with loving care for over two decades since its renovation in 1988.
3. Triangle X Ranch, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – The only operating dude ranch in a national park offers freestanding log or wood-frame cabins. Each guest is assigned his or her own horse at the beginning of each week’s stay. Perhaps most important, children eat in a separate dining room. The ranch has served as home to four generations of the same family since it was purchased in 1926 by John S. Turner.
4. Rocky Knob Cabins, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia – A small Appalachian complex consisting of five buildings including five cabins (two of which are duplex units), a registration office/manager’s cabin, and a central bathhouse. Each cabins had a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove top, and sink with cold water. You won’t find a better place if you are searching for peace and quiet.
5. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Olympic National Park, Washington – A lodging complex consisting of a registration/dining building plus thirty-two relatively modern cabins and one rental house. The location’s main draw is natural hot springs that have made this a popular tourist destination for nearly a hundred years. Overnight guests have free use of three circular pools of hot mineral water (each at a different temperature) plus a regular heated swimming pool.