National parks draw people from all over the world. Naturally, it makes sense to stay the night in national parks to get the full experience.
Many people ask the question, “can you stay overnight in national parks?”
Yes, you can stay the night in national parks! The ways to stay in national parks depend on the park you visit. Most national parks in the United States have various ways to stay, ranging from backcountry camping to luxurious lodges.
We love staying overnight in national parks. When you stay the night in a national park, you are able to experience the park in a deeper way than if you just visit for a few hours and leave. We have stayed in national parks in several different ways and are excited to share how you too can stay the night in a national park!
Here are 5 ways that you can stay overnight in a national park ranging from the fanciest (and most expensive) to the least fancy (but my favorite way).
The Great National Park Lodges
Some national parks have huge historic lodges that have housed people in the national parks for over 100 years. These lodges are filled with history and are often very majestic and in their original form. While staying in one of the Great National Park Lodges is often expensive, it is worth it, even if for only one night of your stay. My favorite national park lodge we have stayed in is Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park. Staying at the Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier, we had views of the park out our window and tons of trails as soon as we walked out the door. Some other parks that have amazing lodges include Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Glacier National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. I have personally been in (although not stayed at) the lodges at these mentioned parks, and they are all uniquely amazing inside. Reservations to stay at each of these lodges must be made on each of their sites, which are linked above.
National Park Motor Lodges and Inns
There are lodging options in most national parks that are something between a luxurious lodge and a rustic cabin. Some national parks have motor lodges or inns that are less fancy, but not necessarily rustic. For example, Glacier National Park has the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and the Rising Sun Motor Inn that gives you a hotel stay, but for a cheaper price. The Grand Canyon National Park has the Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins (which has views that are just as gorgeous as the lodge). Reservations for these lodging options must be made on their websites which are linked above.
National Park Cabins
Some national parks have cabins either in the backcountry or in developed areas that you can stay at. National park cabins range from fancy cabins with all amenities you could want, to more rustic requiring you to bring a sleeping bag. An important thing to note about cabins in any national park is that there are not a lot of them and they book up very quickly. If you want to stay in a cabin at a national park, you must book these far in advance (sometimes years in advance). Some national parks that have cabins for booking include North Cascades National Park at Ross Lake, Zion National Park, and Yosemite National Park at the Curry Village and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. Bookings and reservations for most national park cabins can be made on their individual websites (linked above).
Camping in a Developed Campground
I will preface by saying that this is the way we most frequently stay the night in a national park. I always love national park campgrounds. Campgrounds at national parks are usually well taken care of and can be found in areas of the park close to main points of interest. Some national parks have multiple campgrounds to accommodate many people, while some have very little (or even none). Some parks that have a lot of campground options include Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. Some of our favorite national parks campgrounds we have stayed at include North Cascades National Park Goodell Creek Campground, Lassen National Park Summit Lake North Campground, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park South Rim Campground. Campsites at national park campgrounds book up so much quicker than normal campgrounds, so reservations need to be made a bit in advance to get a spot. Reservations for most national park campgrounds can be made at Recreation.gov.
Side note: Recreation.gov is where you can make bookings for mostly anything on any national land (including National Forests) and we use it all the time! If you create an account you can save places you want to book and easily manage any bookings you have. You can also view nearby places if the site or campground you want to book is completely booked up.
Backcountry camping in a national park is the best way to get a true feel of the national park and experience it in a unique way that most people do not have the opportunity to do. Not all national parks allow backcountry camping though, so it is very important to check with the national park you are visiting before planning a big backcountry camping trip. Some national parks that allow backcountry camping include Denali National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. Some parks allow backcountry camping, but only if you have a certain permit that can be given by that specific national park via a lottery system. For example, you can backcountry camp along in Denali National Park, but only so many permits are given out and you must enter a lottery system for a chance for a backcountry permit. Be sure to check with the local park rangers at the park you want to visit to get the latest information on backcountry camping in that park. Contact information for the local park rangers can be found on each national park’s website under the “contact” drop down option.
Be sure to pack all of the essentials and be prepared for any weather that you may encounter along the way. If backcountry camping, many national parks require you to have a bearbox with you for you food, such as this one on Amazon.
These are the 5 main ways that you can stay overnight in National Parks in the United States. Have you tried staying in a National Park before? Which way is your favorite way to stay in a national park?
Thanks for reading!
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