US national parks and state parks for amazing trips
One sure way to inject some eye-watering sights and hardcore adventure into your next vacation is to pick a national or state park as the destination. There are countless to consider, but the dusty red-rock bluffs of Utah, the glacier-carved Rockies of Montana, the steaming geothermal pools of Yellowstone, and the granite peaks of Maine are usually up there at the top of the list.
Top articles to explore national park lodges
The town of West Yellowstone in the depths of southern Montana has long been one of the favored gateways to the fabled reaches of the Yellowstone National Park. That means you should find a whole kaleidoscope of different West Yellowstone lodging options. There are pine-built cabins next to sleek modern condos, little woodland bungalows for romantic duos, and even full-sized townhouses. All of them are literally steps from where the preserve starts, which means you can be cruising the 191 towards spurting geysers and bison herds whenever you want.
Encompassing massive valleys and sheer-cut cliffs down in south-western Utah, the Zion National Park is one that can take the breath away. The Towers of the Virgin and the Court of the Patriarchs are just two of the mystical names that have been inspired by the equally-mystical appearance of the spires, hoodoos, and bluffs that reside here like sleeping giants. It's a doozy of a destination for adventurers and romantic couples alike, what with hiking lodges sitting next to modern homes where hot tubs bubble under starry skies. Find those, and more, on the line-up of Zion National Park lodging.
Getting to grips with all the accommodation options for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the fabled lands of Yellowstone can be a challenge. There are just so many choices, some in Montana, others in Idaho, and loads in Wyoming. You're likely to catch countless condos and resorts just beyond the western and eastern gateways to the park. But there's also a chance you'll have the privilege of sleeping beyond its boundaries, in the company of elks and bison. Things do tend to be rustic in these styles of Yellowstone National Park lodging – log cabins are the norm.
Of course, breakaways to the wilds don't have to include chart-topping national parks. State reserves like the Hocking Hills of Ohio have their own enchantments. With 25 miles of hiking paths, the trickling waterfalls of Ash Cave, beautiful Cedar Falls, and the canopy lookouts of the Hocking State Forest, there's endless adventure to be had here. You might also find that Hocking Hills lodging is cheaper and easier to get than in national preserves. Look to nearby wineries or South Bloomingville to discover some of the best.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park rolls over the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, going from Hot Springs to Pigeon Forge to Bryson City. Between its boundaries, it lays claim to seemingly endless summits dressed in oak, hemlock, beech, and pine, all roamed by black bears and bobcats. There's a whopping 70 miles of the iconic Appalachian Trail to get through here, too, not to mention the mountain coasters and aquariums of Gatlinburg. The upshot? Smoky Mountain lodging comes in all shapes and sizes, from family condos to mossy cabins.
If you're feeling the call of the great outdoors, there are few parks in the country that can check all the boxes like this 1,583-square-mile reserve that tumbles over the Montana-Canada borderlands. It's all carved mountain summits dashed with snow plumes and dressed in spruces, forgotten lakes and deep valleys inhabited by hardy highland goats. As far as Glacier National Park lodging is concerned, you'd do well to look to places like Lake Donald, St Mary, or the East Glacier Park Village.
The Smokies – as their known to their banjo-plucking, mountain-loving inhabitants – are surely up there with the most gorgeous of the national parks this side of the Continental Divide. They're so irresistible to budding adventurers that even planning a Smoky Mountain vacation can get the wanderlust a-going. You'll need to pick where you want to stay – will it be the hazy Sugarlands or the fun-filled resorts of Gatlinburg? You'll need to choose what type of lodging you're after – will it be a long-lost shack in the forest or a deluxe alpine home with a hot tub?
Anyone on the hunt for places to stay in Yellowstone is likely to encounter two problems. First – this is a vast cut-out of territory that covers several states. Second – it's a national preserve, where building regulations are tight and there are strict rules on overnight stays. Both of the above can be solved by checking out the myriad towns and villages that fringe the boundaries of the area. Choices flow from West Yellowstone's Montanan cottages to the wood-built lodges of Wapiti in Wyoming.
Probably the best place to go in search of Acadia National Park lodging is the vibrant old ship-building and lumber port of Bar Harbor. Set on Frenchman Bay on the edges of Mount Desert Island, it's a picture-perfect example of a New England marina. Whitewashed cottages, wood-timbered homes, and red-topped lighthouses all make an appearance there. Of course, it's not the only option. You can also go for secluded boltholes in Tremont to the south, or stick to the mainland with the lettings of Trenton.