General managers of national park lodges don't have an easy job. They appear to be in perpetual motion while dealing with issues regarding employees, maintenance, guests, food service, budgets, and the National Park Service. The facilities they manage are often in isolated locations, a factor that can magnify what would normally be minor issues.
Lodging in the Parks
Laughing children, teens streaming out of the cafeteria, and elk grazing peacefully on the lawn greeted me as I made my way to check in to the YMCA of the Rockies, a venerable and sprawling retreat cupped in a mountainous bowl sidled up against Rocky Mountain National Park.
We are nearing the end of a trip of nearly three weeks during which we stayed in or visited 24 national park lodges in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier national parks. As a conclusion to three weeks in three of America's most popular national parks we thought it might be worthwhile to offer some thoughts about the trip, the lodges, and the people.
One of Yellowstone National Park's most ambitious construction projects is nearing completion. Canyon Lodge, largest of the park's nine lodging facilities, has undergone a facelift of major portions. Five large modern lodge buildings, each with approximately 80 guest rooms, will replace all of the 350 Frontier and Pioneer cabins that have been removed.
When thinking about national park lodges most of us visualize impressive rustic structures such as Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn, Glacier’s Many Glacier Hotel, or the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar. These iconic lodges tend to garner most of the publicity and nearly all the personal pictures taken by travelers. Other national park lodges including Yellowstone’s Lake Hotel, Grand Teton’s Jackson Lake Lodge, and the Majestic Yosemite Hotel are not rustic in the manner of Old Faithful Inn, but they are certainly quite impressive.
What does it take to run a lodge in the National Park System, especially a small operation that is not part of a corporate conglomerate? Traveler's lodging experts, David and Kay Scott, recently sat down with the owner of the Pisgah Inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway to discuss his business.
Recent improvements have made stays in the cabins at Badlands National Park in South Dakota a much more comfortable experience.
Of all the national park units we have visited, none provide a more pleasant experience than driving the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Vistas through North Carolina and Virginia aren’t as spectacular as those along Rocky Mountain’s Trail Ridge Road, Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, or Yosemite’s Tioga Road. However, for a pleasant drive that lasts several days rather than several hours, the Blue Ridge Parkway is without peer.
The recently issued NPS concession prospectus for Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim proposes some major construction in the Maswik lodging area.