America’s national parks show off the most beautiful natural sites in the country. But after a sleepless night pierced by howling wolves, a sunrise hike up a winding canyon path, a canoe trip down a winding river, and unrelenting sun and “fun,” park visitors deserve a drink (and a rest). Kicking back with a drink at a lodge, saloon or park hotel bar is our idea of outdoorsy entertainment at its finest, so we sought out the best bars in national parks all across our great drinking country.
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Queens, presidents and everyone in between have stayed at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and for good reason—the AAA four-diamond property is a National Historic Landmark and perfectly combines the joys of elegant accommodations with awe-inspiring nature. While the on-site dining room features 34-foot ceilings, striking pine trestles and a dinner dress code, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Bar is cozy, relaxed and the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring. Try one of their twists on a classic cocktail (their Gimlet is made with a rosemary syrup) or go for a signature like the Continental Drift—made with tequila, limoncello, lime juice, simple syrup and an Aperol float. There are plenty of wines and beers to choose from, as well as a small list of mocktails for anyone who wants to enjoy happy hour without the alcohol.
Situated on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, this lodge has been hosting visitors in rustic cabins and motel rooms since 1928. The property’s lodge offers all kinds of amenities for guests, including a number of trail heads for hiking and mule rides down the canyon. But we’re here for the booze, which is exactly what on-site Rough Rider Saloon can offer the weary traveler after a long day of canyon hiking. There are plenty of cocktails, whether you’re in the mood for a Prickly Pear Margarita or their take on the Rum Runner (dubbed the Colorado River Runner). All drinks come with the best views you could imagine, so definitely make it a point to imbibe here during your visit.
Don’t be scared off by the fact that the Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. There are plenty of non-terrifying things to do here. If you’re visiting in the winter, enjoy snow sports like ice climbing and skiing. Warmer weather brings adventures like cliff camping and half day hikes that end with truffles and whiskey for two. Speaking of the brown stuff, you can’t vacation in the steep Rocky peaks without visiting The Stanley’s gorgeous Whiskey Bar & Lounge. The handsome wooden back bar is filled with just about every whiskey you can imagine, and they serve both signature and classic cocktails. Grab a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, or spring for the Lucky Lucy, made with Basil Hayden’s bourbon, pear Cognac, fresh lemon and grapefruit juices, and agave.
Open: May - September
When Lake McDonald Lodge was built more than 100 years ago, the designers were equally influenced by Swiss chalet architecture, classic hunting lodges and their Montana surroundings. The property boasts those same charms to this day, along with modern amenities and adventure opportunities like horseback riding, evening ranger programs and boat cruises. While there are few great places to dine on-site, none quite harken back to the lodge’s history like Russell’s Fireside Dining Room. Rustic wood paneled walls, a cobblestone fireplace and taxidermy galore honor its hunting lodge roots, while the hearty fare pays tribute to local ingredients and farms. Classic cocktails get the Russell’s twist, while signature drinks like the Great Northern Spark—Whistling Andy Pear and Peppercorn Gin, almond syrup, prosecco and fresh cracked pepper—give you a taste of Montana-made spirits.
Kalaloch Lodge offers a diverse range of accommodations, whether you prefer to stay in the main house, a private cabin or a tent on the property’s campgrounds. But even if you’re not resting your head there, you need to stop by for a libation after a day of hiking in the breathtakingly beautiful Olympic National Park. The park’s Creekside Restaurant offers sweeping views of the Pacific as you take a load off in the cozy, slightly nautical-themed room. In additional to local wine and beer from Washington State, Creekside’s cocktail menu has something for every palate to enjoy. Try the Cold Brewed Kalaloch Coffee with local cacao brandy and heavy cream, or spring for Wise Old Owl, mixed with Ghost Owl Rye Whiskey, brandy, orange and lemon juices, and honey syrup.
If the beers at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery taphouse taste as if they sprang right up from the ground, it’s because they did. The first brewery actually on national park grounds makes its English, German and Belgian style brews using the 144 degree thermal water of the nearby springs. Just as the beers repurpose the hot springs water, the brewery itself repurposes existing architecture, taking up residence inside an old bath house. If you’re visiting the park with the whole family, Superior Bathhouse also makes root beer for the kiddos.
Open: May - October
You’ll see tall glasses on nearly every table at Jordan Pond House full of Maine’s most famous product—fresh blueberries. Drinks come either as virgin blueberry lemonade or a Blueberry Mojito for the adult park visitors, and the bright glasses are almost enough to distract from the pristine view over the water. If you manage to get enough fresh blueberry goodness, other light sippers like spiked lemonade and Sangria accompany local Maine fare like lobster stew.
Open: April - October and December - March
The Old Faithful Inn Dining Room is the most well known dining option in Yellowstone, but despite being named for the reliable geyser, it’s only open during the summer months. The Obsidian Room at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, on the other hand, keeps on trucking through the winter, and the drinks there are the best reason to visit the park in the off months. Cozy up by the fire at the Firehole Lodge attached to the Obsidian Room with a winter warmer like a Hot Buttered Rum (made with local Wildrye Spiced Rum) or a spiked Huckleberry Hot Chocolate.