Top Ten National Park Historic Lodges - Page 2

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Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake Lodge (1915): Rimside Views of Crater Lake
The fact that this Oregon lodge is only partly historic is a little disappointing to architecture buffs, but there's plenty of good news to offset that fact. Completed in 1915, Crater Lake Lodge has had a checkered history, and at one point was in danger of demolition. Structural problems led to it being extensively rebuilt before its reopening in 1995. The picturesque Great Hall is largely original, however; and the lodge's overall rustic style is reflective of the 1920s, in keeping with other national park inns of the era. Guests can learn about the lodge's past in the Exhibit Room, just off the lobby. The recent renovation means that rooms are more up-to-date than those at many park historic inns, and there's one more priceless attribute: The lodge sits right on the rim of Crater Lake, one of North America's most scenic natural wonders. Lodge: 888-774-2728, www.craterlakelodges.com.

Glacier National Park
Many Glacier Hotel (1915): Railroad-built Chalet
The imposing, five-story Many Glacier Hotel sits in a spectacular location in the northern part of this Montana national park, surrounded by rugged glacier-shaped peaks such as the great promontory of Grinnell Point. Swiftcurrent Lake is just steps away. Opened in 1915 by the Great Northern Railway, the hotel was designed to attract tourists who would arrive by rail; today it's reached by a road that runs alongside Swiftcurrent Creek and Lake Sherburne. Hikers will find lots of nearby opportunities on trails that range from flattish and easy to long-distance treks up into the park's backcountry; guided boat tours leave from the hotel's dock. A national historic landmark, Many Glacier Hotel was designed with a Swiss-chalet theme. Major renovations are planned for the hotel after the 2010 season. Lodge: 406-892-2525, www.glacierparkinc.com.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
LeConte Lodge (Begun 1926): Hike-in Experience
LeConte Lodge isn't for everybody, but guests who appreciate its solitude, simplicity, and beautiful surroundings return year after year. No roads lead to this Tennessee establishment, the only lodging in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; getting to the lodge requires a hike of at least 5 miles. (The lodge brings in supplies three times a week on llamas.) There's no electricity or telephone, and bath time means using buckets and wash basins (bring your own washcloth and towel). Kerosene lanterns provide light, and propane heaters take some of the chill out of the elevation of 6,360 feet. Hearty meals are served family style, and guests retire to one of the extremely basic cabins or lodge units. At LeConte Lodge, rustic really means rustic. Still interested? Once here, guests enjoy birdsong, fabulous Great Smokies sunrises and sunsets, relaxing rocking chairs, and the feeling that they've left the modern world far, far away. Lodge: 865-429-5704, www.lecontelodge.com.

Oregon Caves National Monument
Chateau at the Oregon Caves (1934)
A national historic landmark, this rustic hotel opened in 1934 and still retains an amazing degree of that era's ambience, with original furnishings, local wood construction, and even a 1930s-style coffee shop. The restaurant emphasizes local meat, produce, wines, and microbrews. Built on a hillside, the Chateau at first glance appears to be somewhat compact, but a rear view shows that it's actually six stories tall. The building seems to nestle among the surrounding Douglas-firs and other conifers, and that environment is refl ected in the interior, largely constructed of native wood. Large, rough-hewn logs support ceiling beams in the lobby, and the stair balusters and rails are natural tree branches. Lodge: 877-245-9022, www.oregoncaveschateau.com.

Shenandoah National Park
Big Meadows Lodge (1939)
Set near the halfway point of 105-mile-long Skyline Drive in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows took its name from the large, grassy ridgetop area where it was built in 1939. Local stone and wood (much of it from chestnut trees, now virtually extinct) were used in construction, and the result is a lodge that well matches its Appalachian Mountains environment. The original lodge has 29 rooms, but a variety of other rooms and cabins have been added since the facility opened; newer rooms tend to be larger and have more amenities. The park's Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center is located in the Big Meadows area, and a wide array of hiking and horseback trails are nearby, including easy access to the Appalachian Trail. It's not far to Lewis Falls, one of dozens of waterfalls in the park. Lodge: 888-896-3833, www.visitshenandoah.com.

Death Valley National Park
Inn at Furnace Creek (1927)
Well before a national park was established at the hottest, driest, and lowest spot in the United States, a borax-mining company built a beautiful lodge on a hill at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash. Local mines had closed, and the company was looking for a way to make money from the narrow-gauge railroad it had built to ship ore. Opened in 1927, the inn was built in the Spanish mission style, with stucco walls, towers, arches, and a red tile roof. Thanks to the skills of its architects and landscape designers, the Inn at Furnace Creek blends nicely with the desert surroundings, its colors matching the Funeral Mountains that serve as its backdrop. Over time, the inn has developed into a true luxury oasis, with palm trees, beautiful gardens, and a spring-fed swimming pool. There could hardly be a more comfortable respite from one of the most hostile environments on Earth. As a bonus, guests can play a round at the world's lowest-elevation golf course, an 18-hole layout more than 200 feet below sea level. Lodge: 760-786-2345, www.furnacecreekresort.com.

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