From secluded campsites to luxe new resorts, there are terrific ways to explore America’s national parks for a range of budgets.
“If you’re going on vacation with your family or friends, staying in a campground in a national park is going to be a more affordable option than going to a big city,” says Jen Murphy, Travel Editor at Food & Wine. “Plus, if you’re active, national parks have so much to offer, like hiking, mountain climbing and rafting.”
Grand Canyon National Park spans more than a million acres of land for active travelers, so even those set on a rougher experience must plan where they’re going to sleep. The decision becomes easier with an understanding of each side of the Canyon. The North Rim is wilder, and also more secluded, than the South Rim. Covered in forests and lush meadows, it attracts deer, turkeys, coyotes and spiny horned lizards.
Since a hike into the canyon tests physical and mental endurance, the most ideal location is the North Rim Campground. Hikers can save energy by staying closer to desired trails, and the camp is one mile from North Kaibab Trail, the only maintained path into the canyon from this side of the rim.
A two-hour drive away, Amangiri resort is superluxe. “It’s fun to rough it for a bit, but after a few days of camping, there’s nothing like checking into a nice hotel with soft towels and hot showers,” Murphy says.
Made of concrete and sandstone, the resort fits in with the desert canyons and plateaus of southern Utah. Its 34 suites are also 15 minutes from Lake Powell and nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. “Hotel staff have connections with outfitters in the area and can arrange everything for you,” Murphy says.
At Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Jackson, Wyoming, staff arranges whitewater-rafting expeditions through some of the deepest gorges of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Most of the Lodge’s 145 rooms have amazing views of the Grand Teton Mountains and the river valley — as does a big hot tub on the roof of the 16,000-square-foot Solitude Spa.
Alternatively, Grand Teton’s Jenny Lake Campground has 49 tent sites that are also in high demand — there are no reservations — and the nearby lake offers swimming, canoeing and scenic trails for hiking.
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