From sea to shining sea America’s state and national parks are true national treasures that celebrate the vast and diverse beauty of our sprawling country. Where there is a stunning national park, you’ll likely find an equally stunning resort not far away. As much as I love the grand, historic National Park hotels, it’s almost impossible to get a room unless you book at least a year in advance, and frankly, I have no idea what I’ll be up to a year from now. I need a little more flexibility! So I went with my top picks for the 5 star, luxury resort hotels close to (but not inside) our beautiful parks to fill your summer with an appreciation for man made as well as natural beauty. These destinations will also spoil you wobbly with resplendent luxury and are some of the top rated accommodations in the country.
Red Rock State Park & L’Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa
Sedona, Arizona has been long known as sacred ground to the Sedona’s Native Indians and visitors alike. Considered one of the few Vortex spots on the planet, it is believed to have swirling centers of energy conducive to healing and spiritual renewal. Whatever you believe, you will be hypnotized by its otherworldly beauty. As part of any visit to Sedona, you must hike around Red Rock State Park, there is simply nothing like it! But please don’t be an idiot like me and not take enough water! It is waaaaay dryer out there than you think, you will evaporate without staying fully hydrated.
You’ll find a perfect retreat in L’Auberge de Sedona with views of the spectacular red rocks, but nestled in a green oasis next to a beautiful, verdant river. I recommend booking one of the riverside cottages, where you can enjoy a glass of wine in comfy lounge chair on your cottage deck overlooking the river.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks & Amangani Resort and Four Seasons Resort
With two parks so close together, a visit to Wyoming is a park-lover’s dream. Grand Teton National Park, just north of the insanely charming town of Jackson Hole, and famed for its breathtaking vistas and inspiring array of wildlife, and the more famous of the pair, Yellowstone National Park, which was established as the world’s first national park in 1872. Atop a volcanic hotspot, it’s home to the world’s largest collection of gushing geysers including Old Faithful, and features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and hundreds of animal species including bear, wolves, bison, elk and antelope.
I figured two amazing parks deserved two amazing options for lodging. Both are year round favorites with some of the best skiing in the Rockies. If you’re looking for secluded luxury, The Amangani Resort offers a chic, modern/western vibe with awesome, sweeping views of the Grand Tetons. Offering everything from yoga retreats, to sunset wildlife tours, dog sledding, and a riding stable within walking distance – just ask, and they will tailor any adventure you’re looking for. The other option is the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in the town of Jackson Hole. This alpine mountain resort has plush rooms in a posh lodge with ski-in-ski-out amenities during the season, as well as hiking, rafting, horseback riding, excellent fishing, tubing, and their own downhill mountain biking course. Again, just ask and you shall receive!
Yosemite National Park & Majestic Resort and Chateau du Sureau Resort
Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s most famous for its giant sequoia trees, the iconic vista of Bridal Veil Falls, and the jaw dropping, granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. Located inside the park is the gorgeous Majestic Resort (formerly known as the Ahwahnee). Personally, I don’t like the name change, but that’s just my childlike nostalgia speaking. This gorgeous, grand, historic landmark was built on the valley floor in 1927, and was designed to highlight its natural surroundings with views of Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. If you can get a room here within a year, you should also play the lotto because you’re one lucky duck!
So, here’s my favorite 5 star option, the enchanting, fairytale-like beauty of the Chateau du Sureau in Oakhurst, just a short jaunt outside the park. The stone turret welcomes you into the resort’s sumptuously appointed entry and begs that you enjoy its lovely rooms, revered restaurant and luxurious spa.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park & Blackberry Farm
Billed as the United States’ most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Forest ridges straddle the borders of the states and the idyllic beauty of the mountains is only enhanced by the myriad adventures to be had. When visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nothing tops The Blackberry Farm, one of the most celebrated intimate luxury hotels in America. This hotel is renowned not only for its lush accommodations but also as one of the top rated properties in the world for its gourmet cuisine and wines. They offer a wide range of activities which include horseback riding, archery, cycling, hiking, fishing, wake surfing, clay courses and more, all served with a heaping helping of true southern charm and hospitality!
Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks & Amangiri Resort
Another pair of gorgeous parks, both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are located in picturesque southwestern Utah. Bryce Canyon is comprised of crimson colored towering rock spires, the largest collection of these distinctive rock formations in the world. Not to be outdone, Zion is distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs and forest trails along the Virgin River that flow to emerald pools, which have waterfalls and hanging gardens. It would be a shame to travel to southern Utah and not visit both of these parks that are in such close proximity to each other especially when you have such a fantastic place to lay your hike worn bones.
Amangiri should be another word for desert opulence! Chic, modern, and replete with stunning simplicity, Amangiri is a remote hideaway tucked within a protected valley. Enjoy endless views of austere splendor of the desert surroundings, adrenaline-fueled adventure experiences, hot air ballooning right from the resort, tours with Navajo guides and of course, the joy of sinking into a peaceful retreat. The Aman motto is “no request is too great or detail too small”. Ok, so here’s the ask: How do I get everyone to adopt that motto at my house?!
So, off you go, with a few of my 5 star, favorite summer spots jotted down on a post-it. Oh, and another fave, and only a few hour drive from Glacier National Park, is The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. Soooo worth a peak, it’s amazing!