“Many of the historic hotels in our national parks offer a great opportunity for visitors to appreciate the history of the national treasure they are staying in,” says NPCA senior vice president of programs Ron Tipton.
In the early 20th century, railroads transported visitors to national parks including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, and built lodges inside those parks. The original section of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Lodge dates to 1903. The Grand Canyon’s El Tovar opened on the South Rim in 1905. Twelve years after the National Park Service was created, the Union Pacific Railway opened the Grand Canyon Lodge, the last major building in the railway’s “Loop Tour,” on the North Rim of the canyon in 1928.
Over time, as car ownership grew, the interstate highway system developed, and motels became commonplace, the railroad-era trend of building hotels inside the boundaries of national parks ended. Today, the Park Service works to maintain historic hotels in many national parks, from Mount Rainier to Shenandoah.
“Regrettably, the Park Service lacks sufficient funding to perform renovations and major repairs at some of these historically significant structures,” Tipton adds. “But fortunately, visitors quickly fall in love with these places, becoming inspired to help advocate for their protection for our children and grandchildren.”
NPCA recommends that visitors craving authenticity consider a stay at one of the following historic hotels, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
* Many Glacier Hotel, at Glacier National Park (Mont.), was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1915 to accommodate tourists. Inspired by resorts in the Swiss Alps, Many Glacier is a wooden structure with numerous gables and balconies, and therefore, ongoing preservation needs. For reservations, visit: http://www.glacierparkinc.com/
* Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park (Wa.) reopens May 2008 after two years of renovations and structural work. Congress approved the funds to renovate the historic inn, which has long been considered one of the best places to stay in the national parks. The inn was built in 1917 and received the funding necessary for preservation due in large part to broad public support. To reserve a room visit: http://rainier.guestservices.com/index.html
* In Shenandoah National Park (Va.), Skyland Resort offers a sweeping view of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley from 3,680 feet. The resort was built in 1895, but did not become part of the park until the 1930s. George Pollock, who started the resort (originally called Stony Man Camp), was also influential in establishing Shenandoah as a national park. Skyland is the largest lodging complex in Shenandoah National Park, offering lodge units, suites, and cabins for visitors. To reserve a room visit: http://www.visitshenandoah.com/reservations.cfm
* Yosemite National Park (Calif.) is home to the Wawona Hotel, one of the grandest hotels in any national park. The Victorian-style hotel consists of six white frame buildings, the oldest of which dates back to 1876. It is the oldest resort complex in the National Park System. Famous visitors include Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Book your stay online at: http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_WawonaHotel.aspx
For more information about historic hotels in the national parks, visit: http://www.npca.org/magazine/2006/summer/lodges.html.
Courtesy of ARAcontent