The Best “Parkitecture” Hotels for Travelers Who Love the National Parks

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Galloping Camargue horses have come to symbolize the wild spirit of the region.
Slide 1 of 8: Proving mother nature knows best, the national parks inspired their own brand of architecture. It’s called “parkitecture,” and while it emerged in the early 19th century, its tenants remain popular today and still influence how architects plan buildings near the national parks—and in natural landscapes in general.
Several principles define the architectural style—horizontal lines should dominate and nearby buildings should be in harmony with one another. But the overarching rule governing this architectural style is that buildings should not attempt to visually upstage the natural beauty surrounding them.  The 23 Best National Park Adventures  As a national park enthusiast, you’ve probably come across some classic examples of parkitecture: Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn and its towering lobby built with local logs and stones or the Majestic Yosemite Hotel in Yosemite National Park, which was originally built in the 1920s to draw more wealthy visitors to the park.
Here are seven more “parkitecture”-inspired hotels that are worth checking out if you love the national parks.
Slide 2 of 8: Forest ranger stations served as a muse for Sage Lodge, a hotel that opened in 2018 in Paradise Valley, located 35 miles outside Yellowstone National Park. While designing the hotel, the architecture team with Jensen & Frey climbed into a telescopic front wheel loader to scout the best views for the two-story hotel, as well as to make sure they were aligning the lobby with a straight shot of Emigrant Peak, a stunner that juts from the Absaroka Mountains. What’s more, dark sky standards were followed to limit light pollution and preserve the night sky for stargazers.
Slide 3 of 8: A year-round heated pool at Devil’s Thumb Ranch breaks from the traditional rectangular shape so it can instead resemble a natural pond, complete with curved ledges and a smooth river rock bottom. The mountain ranch—which is about 1 1/2 hours from Denver—is classically Colorado: It’s rustic, but luxe; room views show off the Continental Divide; and guests here can go cross-country skiing on the property or be a part of a cattle drive. But, there’s also some Oregon influence as the the main lodge resembles Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, which is where owners Bob and Suzanne Fanch like to spend their vacation time.
Slide 4 of 8: When it comes to national parks, Utah is spoiled. The state is home to the “Mighty Five,”—Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. The architecture for Red Mountain Resort in southern Utah was inspired by its nearby national parks as well as State Canyon State Park. Red-orange buildings are a nod to the red sandstone of Snow Canyon, while arched windows pay homage to the famed natural arches in Zion and Arches national parks. Plus, the resort’s landscaping includes a water feature that creates an “oasis-in-the-desert” feeling much like Zion’s lush river gorge.
Slide 5 of 8: While “parkitecture” is a term coined in the United States—and is specific to lodging resembling America’s national parks—there are other examples of parks-inspired architecture throughout the world. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a 7,000-acre resort in the Greater Blue Mountain located between two national parks, the Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park (about 2 1/2 hours from Sydney). Architects Turner + Associates and designer Chhada Siembieda incorporated Australia’s natural color palette by sourcing timber and sandstone sourced within a 60-mile radius of the property. The villas are made of natural wood and stone that was sourced locally as well. Expect cameos by kangaroos and wallabees.
Slide 6 of 8: The eco-friendly cabins at Shipwreck Lodge are eerie, but in a cool way. The cabins are propped on sand dunes near the Atlantic Ocean and designed to mimic the 20th century shipwrecks that dot Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park, which is known as the “world’s largest ship cemetery”. Fog from the ocean lends a cinematic effect. Included in the stay is a visit to the mysterious Suiderkus and Karimona shipwrecks.
Slide 7 of 8: Jackson Hole Lodge, originally built in 1941, gets bragging rights for being the oldest continuously operating hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. The hotel incorporates “parkitecture” with original paneling made from lodgepole pine sourced from the nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest. Visitors here can choose their own national park adventure by visiting Grand Teton National Park, about which President Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “This is how mountains are supposed to look”, or pay “Old Faithful” a visit in Yellowstone National Park.
Slide 8 of 8: About 40 miles outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grove Park Inn’s original builder Edwin Wiley Grove wanted to design a lodge that reflected the “majesty of the mountains,” according to historical records from the National Park Service. His concept called for building the lodge with natural rough stones from nearby mountains. Local architects couldn’t grasp the idea, so he enlisted his son-in-law, who had no formal training, to design the building. Grove Park Inn was built in five sections to resemble the rise and fall of a mountain range. Granite boulders quarried from Sunset Mountain were used in its construction, including the inn’s chimneys.

1. Sage Lodge in Pray, Montana

Forest ranger stations served as a muse for Sage Lodge, a hotel that opened in 2018 in Paradise Valley, located 35 miles outside Yellowstone National Park. While designing the hotel, the architecture team with Jensen & Frey climbed into a telescopic front wheel loader to scout the best views for the two-story hotel, as well as to make sure they were aligning the lobby with a straight shot of Emigrant Peak, a stunner that juts from the Absaroka Mountains. What’s more, dark sky standards were followed to limit light pollution and preserve the night sky for stargazers.

2. Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado

A year-round heated pool at Devil’s Thumb Ranch breaks from the traditional rectangular shape so it can instead resemble a natural pond, complete with curved ledges and a smooth river rock bottom. The mountain ranch—which is about 1 1/2 hours from Denver—is classically Colorado: It’s rustic, but luxe; room views show off the Continental Divide; and guests here can go cross-country skiing on the property or be a part of a cattle drive. But, there’s also some Oregon influence as the the main lodge resembles Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, which is where owners Bob and Suzanne Fanch like to spend their vacation time.

3. Red Mountain Resort near St. George, Utah

When it comes to national parks, Utah is spoiled. The state is home to the “Mighty Five,”—Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. The architecture for Red Mountain Resort in southern Utah was inspired by its nearby national parks as well as State Canyon State Park. Red-orange buildings are a nod to the red sandstone of Snow Canyon, while arched windows pay homage to the famed natural arches in Zion and Arches national parks. Plus, the resort’s landscaping includes a water feature that creates an “oasis-in-the-desert” feeling much like Zion’s lush river gorge.

4. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in New South Wales, Australia

While “parkitecture” is a term coined in the United States—and is specific to lodging resembling America’s national parks—there are other examples of parks-inspired architecture throughout the world. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a 7,000-acre resort in the Greater Blue Mountain located between two national parks, the Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park (about 2 1/2 hours from Sydney). Architects Turner + Associates and designer Chhada Siembieda incorporated Australia’s natural color palette by sourcing timber and sandstone sourced within a 60-mile radius of the property. The villas are made of natural wood and stone that was sourced locally as well. Expect cameos by kangaroos and wallabees.

5. Shipwreck Lodge on Skeleton Coast, Namibia

The eco-friendly cabins at Shipwreck Lodge are eerie, but in a cool way. The cabins are propped on sand dunes near the Atlantic Ocean and designed to mimic the 20th century shipwrecks that dot Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park, which is known as the “world’s largest ship cemetery”. Fog from the ocean lends a cinematic effect. Included in the stay is a visit to the mysterious Suiderkus and Karimona shipwrecks.

6. Jackson Hole Lodge in Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson Hole Lodge, originally built in 1941, gets bragging rights for being the oldest continuously operating hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. The hotel incorporates “parkitecture” with original paneling made from lodgepole pine sourced from the nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest. Visitors here can choose their own national park adventure by visiting Grand Teton National Park, about which President Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “This is how mountains are supposed to look”, or pay “Old Faithful” a visit in Yellowstone National Park.

7. Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina

About 40 miles outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grove Park Inn’s original builder Edwin Wiley Grove wanted to design a lodge that reflected the “majesty of the mountains,” according to historical records from the National Park Service. His concept called for building the lodge with natural rough stones from nearby mountains. Local architects couldn’t grasp the idea, so he enlisted his son-in-law, who had no formal training, to design the building. Grove Park Inn was built in five sections to resemble the rise and fall of a mountain range. Granite boulders quarried from Sunset Mountain were used in its construction, including the inn’s chimneys.

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