Amazing Spaces in Spectacular Places
National park lodges are definitely amazing spaces. Granted they all have location going for them, but these majestic properties are much more than just chain hotels planted at precipitous points in our national lands. A great deal of thought went into their design and even their orientation.
Take Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone, and the Ahwahnee in Yosemite, for example. Both properties were designed by Gilbert Underwood, and although they both feature floor-to-ceiling windows, a massive lobby and the requisite oversized fireplace; they each also include individual design touches that truly makes them one-of-a-kind properties.
And as far as orientation goes, look no further than Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park. The lodge was designed to reflect the solitude in the surrounding land; and the rooms face the adjacent mesa, and feature large picture windows and comfortable outdoor areas to enjoy the magnificent view.
National park lodges are more than just places to spend the night. They are places to extend your visit, enjoy the park after dark, and totally immerse yourself in the surrounding beauty. And each national park lodge is completely different.
And that’s the main reason I wrote this book
The first national park lodge I ever visited was Camp Curry in Yosemite National Park. I was 13, and I was on a girlfriends skiing getaway with some of my besties and their families. Even though it was close to home it was still quite the treat for us. Snow covered the surrounding forest floor, and one night on our way back from the bathroom my pals and I had an impromptu moonlight snowball fight. And of course there was a lot of giggling — after all we were 13 — before an adult opened his cabin door and unceremoniously schussed us. And then we continued giggling — and pelting each other with snowballs — as we ran through the forest back to our cabin.
That’s what memories are made of — these amazing spaces in spectacular places.
And over the years I’ve been privileged to spend some time in all the national park lodges; and indeed each one holds a very special memory for me.
The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim is especially memorable, as I had an appointment to meet the manager there before the property opened up for the season. The place was completely deserted — it was just Charles, me and the deer. The manager showed up after we finished our picnic lunch, and when she took us into the main lodge building I had flashbacks of scenes from The Shining. It’s amazing how creepy a deserted lodge can be, especially when it’s so massive.
The Roosevelt Cabins in Yellowstone produced another memorable experience. We snuggled together in our cozy log cabin one night while the wind whipped up outside; and the next day we were treated to an up-close-and-personal bison encounter, just steps from our front door.
Finally, I’ll never forget the night we spent at Rock Harbor Lodge in Isle Royale National Park. It absolutely poured down rain that night, so much so that it startled me from my sleep. We awoke the next morning to be greeted by a gorgeous sunrise, as the waves peacefully lapped at the lakeshore. From tempestuous to breathtaking in less than six hours — it was quite a ride.
And my hope is that these national park properties will create equally poignant memories for you too.
Now let’s talk access, because, after all that’s my expertise. That’s another reason I wrote this book, to let folks know that these historic lodges are for the most part accessible. Granted, most were constructed before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was ever enacted, however access upgrades have been continually added over the years. Many people assume these lodges are not wheelchair-accessible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. So I’ve included detailed access descriptions and copious photos of the accessible rooms to prove this point.
Of course, lodgings are only part of the access equation. With that in mind I’ve also included an Access Overview section for each park, which lists some of the most accessible trails, attractions and access upgrades; and gives folks a good idea about the general accessibility of the parks. This book goes well beyond just stating that something is ADA compliant — it’s a realistic assessment of the access so you can choose the parks that will work for you.
And if your time in a park is limited, be sure and read the Don’t Miss This section, which includes the one absolutely must-do accessible trail, attraction or activity in the park. And again this is gleaned from first-hand experience, and a lot of legwork.
In the same vein, I’ve also included an Insider Tip section for each park, which is filled with helpful suggestions of things to look for, avoid or take into consideration when planning your visit. Your time is valuable, and I discovered most of these tips the hard way, so that you don’t have to.
In the end, Barrier-Free Travel; National Park Lodges for Wheelers and Slow Walkers is the perfect tool to help you decide what parks and lodges will work best for you, and to plan an accessible national park road trip.
Additionally, access is constantly improving, so if you find something new, let me know, and I’ll update things at www.BFNationalParkLodges.com.
So get out and explore our beautiful national parks, and then spend a night or two in the national park lodges listed in this book. And let me know how it goes. I’m sure it will be a memorable experience for you as well.