NPLAS Mission

The National Park Lodge Architecture Society is an organization of individuals who appreciate the important role of the unique hotels, inns, cabins and other lodging in the National Park system, and advocate the protection and operational preservation of the significant facilities and structures.

National Park Lodge Locator

Clickable Map of the US

Please click on the map above for a state-by-state guide to lodges in the national parks. For a complete listing of lodges by NPLAS Classification, please click here.

Significance of the National Park Lodge

El TovarPrior to the mid 20th Century, visiting the national parks was a multi-day trip requiring an overnight stay within the park. Concessionaires and railroads built hotels and camps to house visitors. Although the majority were hastily and poorly constructed, a few of them were grand lodges or well managed camps that survive to this day.

After 1916, most new lodge facilities would be built under the guidelines of the National Park Service. Many of these are architectural treasures that perfected the style of national park rustic, known today as "parkitecture."

A visit to a national park during this era consisted of more than just daytime activities; the nightime lodge scene, including relaxed dining and perhaps a board game in the lobby, were part of a holistic park experience.

In the 1950s, however, the National Park Service would be guided by the "Mission 66" plan, emphasizing minimalist, modern designs. In recent years the design trend has returned to rustic styling, but new lodges are being located far from park focal areas. And most of the newer parks have no lodging within park boundaries.

An Integral Part of the Park Experience

With visitation increasing and lodging opportunities decreasing, the experience of staying in a hotel or cabin "front and center" at a national park is becoming rare.

Today's typical park visitor is a daytime visitor. It begins with a run through the visitor's center, stops at a few keys overlooks or interpretive centers, and a dayhike or a stroll along a nature loop. After a quick break for a snack or perhaps some knicknack in the curio shop, they speed off to a distant motel.

The few who do manage to arrange lodging within the park find their visit to be much more enriching. They have time to move at a slower pace and see more, and then experience evening, night, and early morning framed by the park. They experience the quiet comfort and beauty of the lodge, particularly when the structure is in harmony with the natural surroundings. It becomes a holistic park adventure.

The purpose of the NPLAS is not merely to preserve these historic facilities, but to preserve the experience as well....to ensure that they continue to be used as fully operating lodges, and to promote construction of lodges at the newer national parks.

NPLAS Dedicated to the Preservation and Appreciation of National Park Lodges

NPLAS Home Page Classifications Lobby Bellhop Bookstore Concierge

Classification System

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Lodges are rated for overall contribution to the national park experience, and placed in one of four classifications. A fifth classification is reserved for lodges no longer in existence or no longer used for overnight accommodations. Lodges that do not contribute to the holistic park experience are not classified. For a complete description of the classification process, please click here.

The New Parks

no lodging

The newer parks without lodging receive far few visitors than the older, established national parks. These include Congaree, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon. All are incredible parks, to be sure, but many Americans have never heard of them. Until the National Park Service arranges with concessionaires to provide a "complete" experience, it is doubtful the newer parks will ever have the significance of the Yellowstones and Yosemites. The NPLAS believes that the addition of traditional park lodging will elevate these parks so that they are more that just a mere attraction to spend a day at before driving off to a motel.

Navigating this website

In the true spirit of grand lodging, we've given our navigational links names like "lobby" and "concierge." It's fun, but it can be a bit confusing the first time around, so here's a little guide:

The key to understanding what each lodge has to offer is found in the NPLAS Classification system. It explains why the accommodations in an unclassified hotel may actually be "nicer" and more luxurious than a lodge in Premium Classification II. Lodges are rated on individual merits by Society members, and it's explained on the Classifications webpage.

The Lobby is a directory you can use to find individual lodges alphabetically and by classification. Each reviewed lodge has an individual webpage; these pages are the heart of this website. You can use the state-by-state directory map at left, or simply visit the Lobby.

Like any great hotel, the Bellhop knows all the news and most of the rumors. This is your source for news (and a few rumors) about various park lodges, and NPLAS news as well. If you want the inside scoop, your go-to source is the Bellhop.

Call it a newstand, curio shop, or... Whether you need more in-depth reading material about the various parks, a gift for a national park enthusiast, or perhaps a sweatshirt from your favorite lodge, you can always find it in the Bookstore.

Have a question? Perhaps a photo or some information to share, or you'd just like information about joining the Society. Contact info is just a click away at the Concierge desk.