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  • Dos & Don'ts of Reserving a National Park Stay

    Dos & Don’ts of Reserving a National Park Stay

Timing is everything in securing a stay.

Welcome to the ultimate guide on reserving your stay in a national park – where adventure awaits, and nature is your playground. Imagine waking up to the gentle rustling of leaves, surrounded by rugged trails and abundant wildlife. Visiting the national parks is a bucket list experience that draws adventurers, families, and nature lovers from around the world. But reserving your stay in a national park isn’t just about finding a place to rest your head. It requires preparation, timing, and insider knowledge. And we’re here to share with you the dos and don’ts of booking your visit.

Grand Canyon Lodges on the South Rim

Do Stay in National Park Lodging

A simple “do” that we can’t understate. The fact is our national parks are big — really big. By staying inside the national parks, you eliminate hours spent driving to and from your destination, which affords you more time to explore and to savor the scenery. Leave your car parked and take advantage of trains, in-park shuttles, walking paths, bicycles, horses, mules, and organized guided tours.

Do Book Your National Park Lodging in Advance

The further out, the better. Lodges inside national parks often operate at near-full capacity, so securing your spot is paramount. This is especially crucial if you’re eyeing a stay at one of the iconic lodges like the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon or the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, which can book up 13 months in advance. Flexibility is key. If your heart is set on a specific location, book as far in advance as possible, or be prepared to adjust your dates or try a different lodge if your first choice isn’t available. It’s also worth checking for cancellations – you might be able to snag your dream room!

How to Plan a Grand Canyon Vacation - Part III

Do Book Guided Tours in Advance

From wildlife watching to stargazing, the national parks offer endless activities. Book your desired activities, such as ranger-led programs, mule rides, or boat tours, at the same time as your lodging to avoid disappointment. Remember, more popular activities may need to be booked as early as reservations open.

Winter in Glacier Country

Don’t Assume the Features of Your National Park Lodging

When booking lodging in national parks, you must read the descriptions carefully. Amenities vary. Some rooms use shared bathrooms. Other accommodations come with private baths, telephones, and coffee makers. Often, rooms do not have televisions or air-conditioning, although some may.

Historic Lodging in the National Parks 4

Don’t Pay Unnecessary Fees

When you book lodging and activities directly with Xanterra Travel Collection®, you avoid paying third-party booking fees. Furthermore, you’ll be dealing with company representatives who know the properties and are based there in some cases. For reservations, call 888-297-2757.

Historic Lodging in the National Parks 5

Don’t Unwittingly Book the Wrong Lodging

Some online booking sites often prominently feature accommodations outside the parks and are paid commissions for doing so. When it comes to the best national park lodges, your best bet is to book directly with Xanterra Travel Collection®.

For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit