Part of the joy of visiting Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, or Zion national parks comes from staying in the gorgous lodges in the parks. Not only are the lodges beautiful, but they harbor a fair amount of history in their walls.
Now eight national park lodges, from El Tovar on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Crater Lake Lodge in Crater Lake National Park, have joined Historic Hotels of America® (HHA), a program for the National Trust for Historic Preservation®.
Here's a quick glance at the eight lodges and their history:
* El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park - Sometimes described as a cross between a Swiss Chalet and a Norwegian villa, El Tovar opened January 14, 1905. It was built at a cost of $250,000 and was operated by the Fred Harvey Company. The 78-room hotel was designed by architect Charles Whittlesey. The hotel has undergone many renovations but still retains its rustic charm.
* Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon National Park - Built in 1922, Phantom Ranch is the only lodging facility located below the rim. Originally built for mule riders, its bunk-style cabins are a welcome respite for hikers, mule-riders and river rafters today. The multi-functional main lodge building serves as a registration office, restaurant, store, post office and gathering place. Both the Bright Angel Lodge and Phantom Ranch were designed by famed Fred Harvey Company architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, whose architectural creations throughout the West are still lauded by historians and architects today.
* Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins, Grand Canyon National Park - Listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, Bright Angel Lodge features panoramic vistas of the Grand Canyon. The park’s oldest building, the “Red Horse Cabin” recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The two-room cabin was built in 1890 and was moved to the Grand Canyon 22 years later to serve as a tourist hotel and post office. It was incorporated into Bright Angel Lodge as guest accommodations in 1935 by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.
* Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991, this elegant structure features a massive sunroom overlooking Yellowstone Lake. The hotel was constructed in 1889. Although there have been expansions and renovations over the years, the hotel has retained the look and feel of a grand historic hotel.
* Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park – One of the best-known national park lodges, this massive structure has been a National Historic Landmark since 1987. A partnership of the Yellowstone Park Company and Northern Pacific Railroad, the Old Faithful Inn was constructed of logs and stone during the winter of 1903-04. Some 40 craftsmen built this architectural masterpiece under the direction of architect Robert Reamer.
* Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park – Originally opened in 1915, Crater Lake Lodge has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1981. The deteriorating lodge was closed by the National Park Service in 1988 and reopened in 1995 after a massive renovation that restored it to its original elegance.
* Inn at Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park – This gracious inn opened in 1927 with 12 guest rooms that cost $10 per night. Tourism boomed when Death Valley was designated a national monument in 1933, and another 56 rooms were eventually added.
* Zion Lodge, Zion National Park - Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987, Zion Lodge was designed in the 1920s by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and built by the Union Pacific Railroad.
“These properties are so much more than overnight accommodations as they provide special and unique experiences,” said Andrew N. Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of the lodges. “They are part of our social fabric, they were around during our grandparents’ time, and they will be creating lifelong memories for our grandchildren and beyond.”
“Historic Hotels of America is pleased to be partnering with Xanterra Parks & Resorts,” said Thierry Roch, executive director of Historic Hotels of America. “We are delighted to be able to promote these historic accommodations located in the national parks, our nation’s great historic treasures.”