Do’s & Don’t of Reserving a National Park Stay

X CLOSE

Sign up for
Exclusive Offers

Get exclusive travel news and offers from the Xanterra Travel Collection

Timing is Everything in Securing a Stay

Posted by: Xanterra on October 5, 2020

Lodging in national parks comes with world-class settings. You can choose to visit any national park and discover lakes, towering mountains, river-cut canyons, painted deserts, and red rock formations beckoning just beyond your room’s door. The railroad companies built many of the best national park lodges, and many of these grande dame hotels feature soaring lobbies, thick log beams, and impressive fireplaces — all waiting for you to discover

Follow these helpful dos and don’ts to maximize your stay at these iconic properties.

Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn

Do Stay in National Park Lodging
A simple do that we can’t understate. The fact is that national parks are big — really big. By lodging in national parks, you eliminate hours spent driving to and from your destination. That 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.

Lodge Zion Beer Garden

Zion Lodge

Do Book Your National Park Lodging in Advance
And the further out, the better. After all, these are popular spots, and the best national park lodges fill up quickly. You can book The Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone National Park); El Tovar, Phantom Ranch, and Bright Angel Lodge (Grand Canyon National Park); Many Glacier Hotel and Cedar Creek Lodge (Glacier National Park), and other well-known historic facilities 13 months or so in advance. Less famous lodging often has availability closer to your arrival date. However, it’s still wise to book as far in advance as possible.

If you’re traveling to Yellowstone National Park, summer reservations opened June 1 for the 2021 season following year. You can book your Yellowstone National Park lodging for May 1, 2021, through October 2021). For winter, reservations open March 15 for the following winter (March 15, 2021, you can book for the winter of 2021/2022).

Be flexible with dates and hotels/lodges. Doing so gives you a better chance to secure a reservation.

Check for cancellations. Cancellations do occur. The easiest way to check for cancellations is at the individual park website or by calling central reservations at 888-297-2757.

Women riding a mule

Do Book Guided Tours in Advance
Select the guided tours you want and book them as far in advance as possible, which also provides more choice when there are multiple departure times. For example, you may book the popular all-day South Rim mule rides 13 months in advance at Grand Canyon National Park.

Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Lodge

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.

A hotel with canyon in the background

El Tovar

Don’t Pay Unnecessary Fees
When you book lodging and activities directly with Xanterra Parks & Resorts, 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.

Roosevelt Lodge

Roosevelt Lodge

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 deal directly with Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Ready to learn more about the exciting travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties? Check out the latest digital issue of Explore Magazine.


man on paddleboard

Written by: Xanterra

Don't Miss Out

Sign up for exclusive travel news and offers for some of the world's most incredible destinations.