Video: National Park Adventures
Embrace the great outdoors with an affordable getaway to one of these national parks.
Stay: Volcano House
Volcano House reopened in 2013 following a $7 million renovation that preserved the character of the original 1941 design. The rooms have beautiful views: some overlook Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, while others face native Hawaiian rainforest of ohia lehua and koa trees. This 323,400-acrenationalpark is also great for wildlife spotting; more than 90 percent of the plants and animals here are found nowhere else on earth. Cabins from $55/night.
Stay: Bar Harbor Inn
Located on Mount Desert Island, with 8 acres of gardens and lawns, Bar Harbor Inn is a shingled 19th-century lodge that offers laid-back comfort on Frenchman's Bay—one of Maine's most scenic coastal spots. Many rooms have fireplaces and balconies, and the hotel has a heated outdoor pool, as well as a full-service spa. At 45,000 acres, Acadia National Park consumes some 65 percent of Mount Desert Island (plus two outlying islands). Moose-spotting is practically guaranteed along the pine-fringed trails. Doubles from $209/night.
Cruise: Princess Cruises
This glacier-carved wilderness is a treat for mini zoologists—think bald eagles, humpback whales, and Dall sheep, all against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains and dramatic fjords. Kids can go dog mushing, visit a salmon hatchery, and become Glacier Bay Junior Rangers with the National Parks Service. From $99/person per day.
Stay: Desert Pearl Inn
Desert Pearl Inn puts guests on the river's edge at the entrance to Zion National Park and provides a soothing retreat (reclaimed old-growth Douglas fir floors; a tawny palette of neutrals) from the blazing red rock outside. Nearby, you'll find Zion Canyon, a narrow funnel of 2,000-foot-high sandstone walls with a crimson patina and top-heavy buttes that appear to shoot straight up from earth to sky. Doubles from $168/night.
Stay: LeConte Lodge
Straddling North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most-visited national park. To get away from the tourists in nearby Pigeon Forge, stay at LeConte Lodge, accessed via a five-mile hike to its 6,360-foot mountaintop perch. The log cabins have propane heat, kerosene lanterns, and covered porches with rocking chairs. From $126/night per adult; from $85/night for kids (rates include breakfast and dinner).
Stay: South Fork Lodge
South Fork Lodge is a favorite among the fly-fishing set thanks to its location just feet from the Snake River. It offers a range of accommodation options, including 18 suites, three low-key fisherman's cabins, and an elegant four-bedroom river house. While typically less crowded than its neighbor, Yellowstone, Grand Teton is no less impressive and also easily accessible from Jackson Hole. Keep a camera on hand for any bears, moose, and bald eagles. Doubles from $165/night.