Visiting a national park often means backpacks, cargo shorts, hiking boots and trail mix, but for those who stay a few days at one of the parks hotels or lodges, a night or two of fine dining can balance out the sensible shoes and steady diet of peanuts, raisins and chocolate chips.
These five restaurants are known for their excellent food — much of it regional — and great service. If you're planning a visit to one of these parks, bring along a change of clothes for dinner.
Inn at Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park, California
The Inn at Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park (Photo: Inn at Furnace Creek/Facebook)
Death Valley National Park's website boasts that it's the "hottest, driest and lowest" national park in the country. The extreme heat limits the hours of operation of The Inn at Furnace Creek during July and August but during the rest of the year, restaurantgoers will find a full-service, fine dining restaurant with "resort attire" dress required. (No T-shirts or tank tops.) The dining room serves "an eclectic menu incorporating classical, continental, southwestern and pacific-rim influences" and the best tables are on the veranda with gorgeous views of the blue sky or evening stars.
Grant Village Dining Room, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Grant Village Dining Room, Yellowstone (Photo: Yelp)
The Grant Village Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a varied dinner menu of favorites including prime rib, trout and bison meatloaf. The Seven Stool Saloon is adjacent for drinks before or after dinner. Open seasonally.
Jordan Pond House, Acadia National Park, Maine
Jordon Pond popovers, Acadia National Park. (Photo: Jordon Pond House/Facebook)
Since the 1890s, Jordon Pond House has served popovers and tea. The tradition continued even though a fire burned the original building in 1979. The new restaurant now serves lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The menu includes traditional favorites like lobster stew, house made ice cream, and freshly squeezed lemonade. Open seasonally.
Skyland, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Mile High Blackberry Ice Cream Pie, Skyland's specialty. (Photo: Skyline/Facebook)
The Pollock Dining Room at Skyland in Shenandoah National Park serves farm-to-fork, regional specialties. Situated at Skyline Drive's highest elevation — 3,680 feet — one of the restaurant's specialties is Mile High Blackberry Ice Cream Pie. A separate taproom is available for drinks. Open seasonally.
El Tovar Lodge Dining Room, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
El Tavor Dining Room in Grand Canyon National Park (Photo: Grand Canyon Lodges)
Inside the historic El Tavor Hotel is the El Tavor Dining Room, with its traditional menu offering a variety of international and Southwestern-influenced dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Signature items include prime rib hash at breakfast and salmon tostada at dinner at this restaurant that many consider the premier dining destination at the Grand Canyon. Open year round.