10 Great Breweries Right By National Parks
Your wilderness beer run just got easier.
There are few things as magical as cracking an ice-cold beer while surrounded by nature. Maybe you’re pairing it with a perfectly roasted hot dog by a roaring fire. Perhaps you’ve quenching your thirst as a reward for summiting a mountain, or looking to befriend a particularly fun-looking moose. For many of us, good beer is as essential to a camping trip as firewood and a tent.
But getting that beer to the campsite can be a pain. Usually you're either hauling space-hogging cans from your favorite neighborhood brewery or at the mercy of a local general store's marked-up selection. That is, unless you’re camping at one of the below national parks, which just happen to have outstanding breweries right near their gates. They’re all ideal for a pre-camping meal and, more crucially, sell cold to-go beer in cans, bottles, and growlers, meaning that when you get to your site, you’ll have a cold one in hand without taking up precious real estate in your cooler.
If you've decided to pitch your tent near Yosemite's southernmost tip and are suddenly struck with a strong desire for a tasty handcrafted beer, drive down through the park's south entrance and due south about 14 miles until you reach Oakhurst. This adorable mountain town is home to South Gate Brewing Company, a ruggedly hip brewpub specializing in West Coast hop bombs and seasonally inspired bar food like wood-fired pizzas and beer-battered fish & chips. It's not fancy, for sure, but with food and drink this good, you might want to leave the hiking boots and sweaty bandana behind. Pro tip: Ditch your growler and take advantage of one of their custom beer bags, which are craft beer's answer to bagged wine and way easier to stow in a hiking pack.
MORE: The best places to drink that beer bag in Yosemite
Southern Utah's first brewery is so close to Zion that you can finish a pint then just kind of stroll into the wilds and wander among its stunning red cliffs. Though we'd recommend chasing their pomegranate sour or an American riff on kolsch with a hearty entree like buffalo meatloaf or a huge elk burger before traipsing off into the wilderness, growler in hand. And if you need a refill, well, this place's proximity makes it perhaps the easiest national park beer run in the country.
MORE: These are the best trails in Zion
Nearby park: Grand Teton
Jackson is one of the unsung heroes in the craft beer world, and along with Snake River Brewing, Melvin's one of the biggest reasons. The brewery behind the coveted 2x4 IPA has grown into a powerhouse with multiple locations, but its original spot is still pilgrimage-worthy and wholly unique: Wyoming's only -- hell, maybe the world's only -- Thai restaurant/brewery hybrid not only serves up great Thai cuisine, but also manages to brew a ton of spice-fighting beers like hopped-up IPAs and malty brown ales a mere 20-minute drive from Teton Village. Stock your cooler with beer and maybe some pad thai to heat up on the fire. If it's cold outside, request it extra spicy.
MORE: There's so, so much to do in Jackson.
Nearby park: Acadia
Maine punches well above its weight in beer when it comes to the gold that flows from its taps. So of course there's a wealth of outstanding beer within a short distance of its most prized outdoor space, the rugged and coastal Acadia, including Bar Harbor's Atlantic Brewing Company. But with its mix of wild and familiar beers -- think tequila-aged Key-lime sours and a spicy Thai Hot alongside traditional Pilsner -- sets Fogtown apart. Even better, tiny Ellsworth is also home to Airline Brewing, so you can transition your time on Fogtown's rustic patio into a little brewery crawl before taking your bounty to the shores of Acadia.
MORE: Maine road trip? Maine road trip!!
Columbia Falls, Montana
Backslope Brewing is about as close as it gets to Montana's vertiginous, hypnotic paradise -- only a six-minute drive from the park’s West Glacier entrance and about 20 minutes from Lake McDonald. The Columbia Falls taproom and kitchen is simple in design, but what it lacks in flair it makes up for with its surprisingly diverse draft list and similarly wide-ranging menu -- where else can you get a labneh plate, fried pickles, and gnocchi all in one meal? The solid bill of primarily malt-forward drafts includes the richly layered, pitch-black Foreman stout and a rotating selection that ranges from double IPAs to barrel-aged saisons. But the real star of Backslope's show is, of course, the panoramic mountain views. Nothing -- not even great beer -- can beat those.
MORE: There's some pretty solid drinkin' to do outside Yellowstone, too
A 30-minute drive due south of Shenandoah's 200,000+ acres of serene driving, thunderous waterfalls, and never-ending vistas, you'll find the aptly named Blue Mountain Brewery's Afton brewpub. Nelson County's very first brewery back when it opened in 2007, the modest farmhouse space cranks out straightforward brews with an emphasis on traditional German lagers, which are exactly what you'll want to be drinking after a warm summer night outdoors. Fresh pub food, free brewery tours, growler fills, live music and Sunday brunch make this reliable old-timer a must-stop for any beer-loving park visitor. If balanced fruit beers are your thing, Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet has you covered.
MORE: The Blue Ridge Mountains are peak road trip territory
Estes Park, Colorado
Nearby park: Rocky Mountain
The only thing Colorado takes more seriously than beer is its outdoor space, so no matter how you take your nature, chances are you've got a good beer option nearby. But only Estes Park -- an idyllic mountain town right outside heavily touristed Rocky Mountain -- has Lumpy Ridge. Set up in an old gas station against a craggy backdrop -- with a fence made of old skis for good measure -- the ultra-chill patio is the perfect place for a pre-camp strategy session of an apres-hike pint of their funky double-hopped IPAs and barrel-aged concoctions. Unfortunately, they don't do growlers, but lucky you, you're in Colorado, so nearby legends Oskar Blues have your back on that front.
MORE: Everything you need to know about visiting Rocky Mountain National Park
Yeah, it's about an hour south of mega-park Denali and its near-infinite wilderness, but an hour's drive in Alaska practically means you're next door. And frankly, this is worth driving three times as far for. Brave the journey for a huge list of carefully crafted ales and lagers, from hopped-up double IPAs to smooth Belgian-style goldens. For standard pub fare and a rustic, chilled-out bar vibe, hit up the brewpub, where you can sample all of Denali’s offerings and lounge on the sunny porch. To see where the magic happens, hop over to the brewery and tasting room to sip on a flight and snack on some delicious food truck eats. Either way, you can't lose.
MORE: You really should be considering a trip to Alaska
Nearby park: Saguaro
Saguaro's extreme proximity to bustling Tucson means you can transition from the park's desert petroglyphs to metropolitan murals in about 20 minutes. It's also the rare park that butts up to a vibrant metropolitan food and drink scene. You can take your pick from Tucson's many breweries, but our money's on Barrio, an employee-owned stalwart whose beer is available throughout the state, but whose Tucson Blonde and Barrio Rojo never tastes better than from the source, whether taken to go or enjoyed on the sprawling patio alongside Sonoran tacos and some of the best wings in the city.
MORE: Tucson's a magnet for young creatives
Three Rivers, California
Nearby parks:Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Ten minutes from the entrance to Sequoia and a scant hour from neighboring Kings Canyon, this funky little mountain-town brewery manages the feat of seeming like a pretty great rustic campsite unto itself. Warm your belly with the strong Gravy Baby stout or freshen the old palate with some honey wheat, then kick it on the deck as the sounds of the river -- often paired with live music -- and the sun peaking over the mountains almost makes you forget that you were en route to a stunning national park (or two) to begin with.
MORE: Kings Canyon's hiding a really, really rad secret