If you're looking for a national park lodge that isn't on everybody's tongue, you might want to consider one of the following
Last month we briefly described five of the ten lodges included in “Top Ten Unique National Park Lodges,” an article we wrote for Away.com (see http://away.com/features/top-ten-unique-national-park-lodges.html). The five were Ross Lake Resort (North Cascades National Park Complex, Washington), The Inn at Brandywine Falls (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio), Triangle X Ranch (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming), Rocky Knob Cabins (Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia), and Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (Olympic National Park, Washington). Now we address the remaining five lodges that are unique and not well known, but great places at which to spend a few nights, if not longer.
1. Big Spring Lodge and Cabins (Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri) - Fourteen wood-and-stone cabins, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, sit in a thick hardwood forest on a hillside above the Current River. The cabins vary in size with most having a full kitchen and fireplace. An attractive restaurant is situated on a bluff overlooking the river. The park offers 134 miles of excellent canoeing, kayaking, and tubing.
2. Drakesbad Guest Ranch (Lassen Volcanic National Park, California) - Located at the end of the road (the last six miles are pretty rough) in a beautiful out-of-the-way spot, Drakesbad offers accommodations in cabins, bungalows, and a rustic two-story lodge. Guests are treated as family members and everyone eats together in the dining hall. Horseback riding and fly-fishing are available for a fee. We found that Drakesbad guests return year after year, generally in the same cabin or bungalow. Even many California residents don’t seem to know much about this national park that is one of our favorites.
3. Kettle Falls Hotel (Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota) - Located on an island next to the Canadian border, Kettle Falls Hotel is accessible by float plane, private boat (some guests canoe in) or the hotel-operated boat. Twelve guest rooms and three community bathrooms are on the second floor of the historic hotel that was constructed in the early 1900s to house construction workers. The hotel’s first floor contains a large lobby, dining room, and an unusual bar with a sloping floor. Also available, just down a path, are ten villas, half of which have full kitchens. This area is an angler's paradise.
4. Lewis Mountain Cabins (Shenandoah National Park, Virginia) - Situated in a heavily forested area just off Skyline Drive are eight small buildings that house a store with a registration desk and showers, nine one- and two-bedroom rustic cabins (three are duplexes), and one hikers’ cabin. Each regular cabin has a small bathroom plus a picnic pavilion with a table. A quite, get-away-from-it kind of place.
5. Stovepipe Wells Village (Death Valley National Park, California) - A lodging complex located near the vast Mesquite Flat sand dunes in the central portion of the park, Stovepipe has the appearance of a small Western town. It is comprised of 11 buildings housing 83 guest rooms, a meeting room, restaurant, saloon, and a swimming pool. A general store, gas station, and National Park Service ranger station are across the road. Guests at Stovepipe enjoy a true desert atmosphere.