Skyland Resort

12 Stunning Family-Friendly Lodges in U.S. National Parks

National parks have long been a top family vacation choice. The pandemic brought the benefits of fresh air and open spaces into the spotlight, further increasing the popularity of a national park vacation. 

We’ve rounded up family-friendly lodges within the boundaries of national parks, plus some that are just outside the park. They all provide an excellent base for you to enjoy Mother Nature.

Keep in mind that accommodations inside the parks are often booked months in advance. Some have kid-centric perks like game rooms and swimming pools, while others present a digital detox. The unifying factor is a gorgeous natural setting to explore with your family. 

AutoCamp Zion

Zion National Park, Utah

Auto Camp Zion-credit Matt Kisiday
Photo: Matt Kisiday

The rich, red tones of Zion National Park’s canyons, mesas and rock formations are striking. AutoCamp Zion is a design-forward property adjacent to the park. It offers a variety of accommodations, including custom Airstreams and glamping tents, sweetening the deal with an all-season pool, movie nights and a communal fire pit.The Clubhouse is a focal point, weaving in natural elements of wood and stone, with large expanses of glass inviting guests to enjoy uninterrupted views.

The Moab Resort 

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Arches National Park Moab Resort
Photo: The Moab Resort

With more than 2,000 formations, from Delicate Arch to Double Arch, Arches National Park has the greatest density of natural stone arches anywhere in the world.  The Moab Resort by WorldMark by Wyndham is less than 5 miles from the park, with suites that comfortably sleep two to 10 guests and include a partial or full kitchen, living/dining areas, a washer/dryer, fireplace and balcony. After you’ve spent the day strolling around the sandstone arches and red rock landscapes, cool off by the pool, toast marshmallows and let the kids play in the game room. If you need advice on navigating the park, the resort has a dedicated hiking concierge.

Salt Cottages

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

Salt Cottages, Acadia National Park
Photo: Salt Cottages

Located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park draws outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Its miles of wide, flat carriage roads are carpeted with crushed stone and meander past peaceful ponds and woodlands. Bar Harbor is a good jumping off point to experience Acadia. Salt Cottages is perched on a hillside overlooking Hull’s Cove. The maritime-inspired, seasonal accommodations include 30 stand-alone cottages and 10 boutique motor lodge rooms. Cottages have a kitchenette, a porch and an outdoor patio surrounded by fresh flowers. An outdoor pool overlooking Frenchman Bay, hot tubs, stone firepits, a game room and a playground offer a coastal respite for families. A snack bar with a retro ice-cream window serves breakfast and lunch.

Adventures on the Gorge

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia 

Adventures on the Gorge
Photo: Adventures on the Gorge

New River Gorge became a national park in 2020. It’s a paradise for animal lovers, with many colorful bird species and amphibians. Rock climbing, whitewater rafting and fishing are popular activities. Adventures on the Gorge is a resort and adventure outfitter located at the edge of the park, surrounded by dense forest. It’s perched above the New River, with stunning views of the flowing water of New River Gorge that continues to sculpt one of the deepest gorges in the Appalachian Mountains. Accommodations range from multi-bedroom cabins to glamping tents. Onsite dining and a swimming pool are welcome additions. They’re expert whitewater rafting outfitters, so consider giving this exhilarating sport a try.

Cedar Pass Lodge

Badlands National Park, South Dakota 

Cedar Pass Lodge
Photo: Cedar Pass Lodge

South Dakota’s Badlands paint a dramatic picture, the prairie grassland blending with rugged geological formations of eroded buttes, spires and pyramids. Antelope and bison abound. Minimal light pollution makes it a fine spot for stargazing. Cedar Pass Lodge’s homespun cabins are furnished with pine furniture and comfy porch chairs strategically placed to soak in the scenery. Cabins are heated and air conditioned, with flatscreen TVs and microwaves. South Dakota’s official dessert, kuchen, is served at the restaurant.

Rush Creek Lodge

Yosemite National Park, California 

Rush Creek Lodge Game Room-
Photo: Kim Carroll

Yosemite National Park’s giant sequoias and granite cliffs of Half Dome are sights to see. Rush Creek Lodge sits just outside one of the four main entrances to Yosemite National Park. It’s a jackpot for kids thanks to a zip line, a nature-inspired playground and an enormous swimming pool. A glass-blowing program is interesting to try or just to observe. The indoor game room has nostalgic pinball machines, free of charge, so the kids won’t be constantly asking for change. There’s a coin laundry in case you need to do wash. Rooms are spacious, blending contemporary touches with a rustic sensibility. The onsite restaurant serves hearty fare that’s perfect after a day in the great outdoors.

Old Faithful Inn

 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful Inn
Photo: Xanterra Travel Collection

Yellowstone is America’s first national park, known for its geothermal features and abundant wildlife including wolves, cougars, bison and grizzly bears. The birth of the national park system sparked a rustic style of architecture that blended into the landscape rather than interrupting it. Infused with native materials such as logs and stones, it allows nature to remain firmly in the driver’s seat. The Old Faithful Inn’s gabled roof and 6-foot-tall lobby fireplace made from locally-quarried rocks is the essence of this style. The Old Faithful Inn’s location, steps from the iconic geyser Old Faithful, makes it very popular. Rooms are simple, without air-conditioning, Internet or television; some have a partial view of the geyser. The Old Faithful Inn Dining Room, with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, serves a fabulous buffet.

The Ranch at Death Valley

Death Valley National Park, California 

The Arch Entrance of the Ranch
Oasis at the Death Valley - California

Death Valley National Park is massive, with over 3 million acres straddling the California-Nevada border. Sand dunes and technicolor canyons are some of its most striking features. The park is known for extremes, including being North America’s hottest spot. It’s also an International Dark Sky Park, so let the kids stay up late and stargaze. The Ranch at Death Valley is a former working ranch that has been transformed into a family-friendly base for exploring the rugged landscape. Guest rooms and cottages offer easy access to a spring-fed pool, communal fire pits, a playground, horseshoe pits and basketball courts. Dinner at the western-themed saloon is a treat.

El Tovar

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  Most people visit the South Rim, home to the tourist infrastructure of Grand Canyon Village and arguably, the best canyon views. El Tovar is a crown jewel of national park hotels. Dramatically perched on the canyon’s rim, this Swiss-chalet style beauty was once considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. It opened its doors in 1905, one of a chain of hotels built by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railway. In 1987, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Today, guests enjoy individually appointed rooms and suites. Fans of the Beatles may tickle the ivory at the same piano where Sir Paul McCartney gave an impromptu concert when he was a guest.


Shenandoah National Park, Virginia 

Skyland Resort

Shenandoah National Park is a pastoral patchwork of waterfalls, hollows and meadows filled with wildflowers. It stretches along the 105-mile Skyline Drive, with breathtaking views from overlooks. The park is home to over 500 miles of hiking trails, including Stoney Man Trail, an easy 1.6-mile circuit with spectacular views that is a good choice for families. Skyland is situated along the Skyline Drive and has accommodations ranging from cabins to motel-style units. Prepare for a digital detox: There are no in-room phones and Wi-Fi and cell service are spotty. The Pollock Dining Room serves three meals daily with views of the Shenandoah Valley. (Try the blackberry ice cream pie.)

Lake Quinault Lodge

Olympic National Park, Washington

Lake Quinault Lodge
Photo: Lake Quinault Lodge

Olympic National Park protects a temperate rainforest, where emerald valleys and musk-covered conifers form a verdant panorama. Hiking, soaking in natural mineral pools and fishing are popular. Lake Quinault Lodge is situated on the south shore of the postcard-worthy lake of the same name. There are a variety of room configurations, some with fireplaces and lake views. A heated indoor swimming pool and a game room provide weatherproof entertainment. The dignified Roosevelt Dining Room’s menu leans local, featuring Wild King Salmon and clam chowder made with West Coast clams.

Jackson Lake Lodge 

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton Lodge Company

If you crave mountains, clear lakes and plentiful wildlife, the Grand Tetons may feel like heaven. Jackson Lake Lodge is situated in the park, with floor-to-ceiling windows that frame Jackson Lake and the Teton Range, providing a view worthy of a dozen Instagram posts. The lodge has 385 guest rooms, suites and cottages, decorated with bold textiles. Pack and Play cribs are provided at no extra charge. There are several dining options, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a playground.

Allison Tibaldi is a travel journalist who has written for numerous publications including CNN, Business Insider, Travel Channel, and USA Today.