With America’s park service marking its centennial on August 25, 2016, and Parks Canada offering free admission through 2017 to celebrate its 150th anniversary, now is a great time to visit the national parks in both countries.
Fortunately, if you’re planning a park getaway, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to soak in the spectacular scenery. Lace up your hiking shoes as we’ve rounded up some ideas for deluxe resorts that are convenient to several North American national parks.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, holds an additional distinction as Canada’s first national park. The 2,564-square-mile space includes a beautiful region of mountains, glaciers and lakes in the Canadian Rockies and is an excellent option for travelers seeking to combine divine vistas with deluxe accommodations.
A grand hotel that takes full advantage of its national park location is the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in the town of Banff. From this turreted stone lodging known as “The Castle in the Rockies,” you can easily get out onto many of the park’s 1,000-plus miles of hiking trails. Back at the lodge, you can enjoy the scenery from the mountain-view terrace or unwind in the hotel’s indoor mineral pools.
Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Whether you’re snaking up to the volcanic summit at more than 10,000 feet or exploring the ocean shores east of Hāna, Haleakalā National Park on the Hawaiian island of Maui encompasses some dramatic tropical landscapes. Both sections of the park are on Maui’s eastern half, while most of the island’s luxury hotels are located in South and West Maui, so if you choose upscale lodging, exploring Haleakalā will involve some driving.
A good compromise, location-wise, is the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea on the south shore, which is closer to the park than lodgings near Kapalua or Kā’anapali. Of course, nothing else is a compromise at this Five-Star property. Features include a modern 320-room resort complex with several swimming pools, open-air dining options and plenty of onsite activities.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
This extraordinary network of underground caverns — the world’s longest known cave system — is the equidistant 88-mile drive between Louisville and Nashville. When you venture back above ground, choose an upscale lodging in one of these southern cities if your goal is to pair your national park explorations with more urban pleasures.
In downtown Louisville, stately The Seelbach Hilton Hotel, which opened in 1905, is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, and its 321 rooms are traditionally elegant.
Over in Music City, consider the contemporary Four-Star Hutton Hotel in Nashville’s lively West End district, where eco-friendly features like bamboo flooring, a comprehensive recycling program and LED lighting seem appropriate for a holiday where you’re exploring the region’s ecology.
Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah
A popular destination for hikers, Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is filled with sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons and trails ranging from leisurely to hardcore. Although the area around the park is lacking in luxury lodgings, you can pair your national park explorations with other outdoor adventures by booking a fitness holiday at Red Mountain Resort, located just outside the town of St. George.
A comfortable, activity-driven destination rather than a super-posh escape, Red Mountain offers full-day guided hiking excursions into Zion National Park, just an hour’s drive from the property. You can also choose other guided hikes offered each morning (join a walk among the red rocks of nearby Snow Canyon State Park), then spend the rest of your day energizing with water aerobics, Zumba or by relaxing with a massage or facial at the Sagestone Spa.
Rouge National Urban Park, Ontario, Canada
When you think “national park,” you think “wilderness,” right? Yet, just east of Toronto is Canada’s first urban national park. Stretching across nearly 20,000 acres from the shores of Lake Ontario through Carolinian forests and one of the region’s largest marshes, Rouge National Urban Park lets visitors explore the outdoors only a short distance from Canada’s largest city.
You can easily base yourself in Toronto and day-trip to Rouge Park. Consider staying at the Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Toronto in the Yorkville neighborhood, where you can recover from your outdoor adventure with a leisurely swim in the 9th-floor lap pool or with a treatment at the property’s Four-Star spa. Now that’s our kind of getaway.