From Yellowstone to the Great Smoky Mountains, national parks are hallowed ground for nature at its most pristine, teeming with wildlife, epic hikes, and memorable moments that’ll last a lifetime. On the other hand, national parks can also be quite exhausting. Fortunately, despite the middle-of-nowhere stereotypes for a lot of America’s national parks, lodging options for wilderness explorers extend beyond tent sites and RVs. Across the country, Kimpton hotels can be found on the fringes of many epic parks, providing soothing salvation, restful sleep, and amenities that go well beyond the limitations of a campsite — and nothing against campfire cooking, but sometimes artisan cheese boards and braised lamb shank just hit the spot more than s’mores. As you embark on your next national park adventure, leave the tent at home and stay at these 7 nearby Kimpton hotels.
Kimpton Palladian Hotel – Mount Rainier National Park
The fact that the Kimpton Palladian Hotel, located in a historic downtown Seattle building within fish-throwing distance of Pike Place Market, used to be a mariners lodge in 1910 makes it an apt stopover after a day in the wild at Mount Rainier. On a cloudless day, the towering 14,410-foot mountain (technically an active volcano) can be seen from downtown Seattle, inviting adventurers to hike its hills, traverse its rivers, and frolic amidst wildflowers. The most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, Mount Rainier is a thing of unique beauty, and even if you’re not up for the hustle to the summit, there’s still plenty to do closer to sea level: fishing, rock-climbing, bicycling, and more leisurely trails through meadows and old-growth forests are all accessible through the non-winter months. Then when you’re done, it’s back to the Palladian for some sake-steamed clams at Shaker + Spear and a well-earned nightcap at Pennyroyal.
Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs – Joshua Tree National Park
It only makes sense that the most Instagrammable national park in the country is situated right next door to an equally Instagrammable hotel, the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs. Blending seamlessly into the serene California wilderness, especially on the wide-open rooftop pool and bar, surrounded by desert dreamscape, the hotel is an oasis for luxury, cocktail-sipping, and dining, with four food and beverage options on-site. Plus, it’s under an hour to Joshua Tree National Park, a fever dream of a park filled with whimsical trees, hulking boulders, prickly cacti, and Loony Toon-like wildlife, from roadrunners to coyotes. Activities include horseback riding, stargazing, rock-climbing, and hiking, from easy tree-filled jaunts along the half-mile Cap Rock trail to the 4-mile Lost Horse Mine trail to a defunct gold mine. The mine may be out of commission, but you’ll still strike gold later with dinner, with Carolina gold rice and Steelhead salmon at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, at 4 Saints.
Kimpton Armory Bozeman – Yellowstone National Park
Just over an hour north of America’s first — and most iconic — national park, the Kimpton Armory Bozeman is your luxe gateway to bucket list essentials like Old Faithful, the kaleidoscopic Grand Prismatic Spring, and Yellowstone Lake, the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 in North America, clocking in at a staggering 136-sq.-miles. In fact, everything is larger than life at Yellowstone National Park, the first federally protected nature preserve on Earth, and the second largest national park in the contiguous U.S. From the simmering hot springs and exploding geysers to the grizzly bears, bison, wolves, and elk, this is the closest thing to real-life Jurassic Park you’ll find — though the park rangers do a much better job of protecting guests, thankfully. You could spend weeks in Yellowstone and still not even scratch the surface, but some requisite experiences for newbies include Old Faithful, the Fairy Falls trail near Grand Prismatic Spring, hiking along the raging river through Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and taking a dip in the Boiling River, one of the only springs in the park you can legally soak in, near Mammoth Hot Springs. Conveniently, the latter is near the north entrance to the park, which means you can keep the soaks going with a dip in the rooftop pool or hot tub at the Kimpton Armory Bozeman, then follow it up with a hearty meal at Fielding’s (double bone Kurobuta pork chop is exactly what the doctor ordered) and a whiskey cocktail at basement bar Tune Up.
Kimpton EPIC Hotel – Biscayne National Park
Staying in Downtown Miami, surrounded by skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city, you’d never guess you were just 45 minutes from one of America’s most pristine watery wonderlands. That means you can sleep in at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel and savor a Maine lobster and crab Benedict at Area 31, and still have time to make your paddle boarding trip at Biscayne National Park. Comprised of 95% water off the coast of South Florida, with the Miami skyline looming in the background, Biscayne is one of the most aquatic national parks in the country, awash with nautical wildlife, mangrove-lined shores, sunken ships, and the largest network of coral reef on the continent. To really experience this park, you need to get on — or even better, in — the water, and the Biscayne National Park Institute has you covered with guided trips ranging from snorkeling and kayaking to paddle boarding through Jones Key, a veritable maze of mangroves, where you’re likely to spot stingrays and gentle nurse sharks. If you’d rather stay on dry land, another option is to take a boat out to Elliott Key, the largest key in the park with a six-mile trail running down the center of the island, or visit Boca Chita Key, a smaller key with a historic lighthouse and sandy shores for wading and swimming. And in case you didn’t get enough swimming, you’ll have more opportunity to float in one of two sparkling pools at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel, complete with shaded cabanas.
Kimpton Hotel Arras – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in high-demand. So rather than grapple with crowded campgrounds or RV parks, staying at the Kimpton Hotel Arras in downtown Asheville, a mere 50 minutes from the park, is a win-win. Especially considering most campgrounds don’t come with Peloton Bikes or grilled Spanish octopus. The amenities — and glam Mediterranean dining at Bargello —make all the difference, too, especially as you fuel up for a day trekking through some of America’s most breathtaking mountains. In addition to cycling and fishing, hiking is the classic activity in this lush landscape, with endless miles of trails providing options for all fitness levels. Whether you’re looking for panoramic valley views, cascading waterfalls, flower-filled fields, or old-growth forests, there’s a trail for you. Some heavy-hitters in the park include the 2.3-mile trek to Alum Cave Bluffs, traversing log bridges and hardwood forest along the way, and the Chimney Tops Trail for some of the most staggeringly beautiful views from the top. For a different kind of view, dig into some small plates at District 42 in the Kimpton Hotel Arras, where falafel and mafaldine ragu pair nicely with sunset views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Kimpton Gray Hotel – Indiana Dunes National Park
Most folks staying in the Loop in downtown Chicago, the heart of one of America’s largest metropolises, don’t realize they’re less then 45 minutes from one of the country’s newer national parks. Located just over the Indiana border, Indiana Dunes National Park is an easy day trip from Kimpton’s latest Chicago property, the Kimpton Gray Hotel, itself a mecca of mixology, rooftop dining, and Luxury Atelier Bloem bath amenities. In between meals at Boleo, you’ll have plenty of time for an easy jaunt to Indiana Dunes, a 15-mile stretch of sandy shoreline with a surprisingly diverse array of topography and wildlife. Beyond the beaches, which provide summertime solace for Chicagoans, the park has challenging dune hikes, wetlands, forests, and prairies, abuzz with animals like beavers, Southern flying squirrels, red foxes, deer, and more than 350 species of birds, making this a birder’s paradise, especially for those keen on woodpeckers, herons, and hawks. Once you’ve shaken the sand from your shoes, cozy up to a good book in the library at the Kimpton Gray Hotel, followed by Peruvian-inspired bites and sips at rooftop Boleo. Because a day at the beach necessitates a plate of crispy yucca fries and a Pisco Sour.
Kimpton Lighthouse Hotel – Dry Tortugas National Park
In case you didn’t get enough water action at Indiana Dunes or Biscayne, dip your toe in Dry Tortugas National Park, an aquatic park that’s 99% water, located 70 miles west of Key West. Seemingly in the middle of the ocean, only accessible via a 2-hour ferry ride from Key West, the park has a few small keys rife for exploration, especially Garden Key. This is the main dock for the ferry, and home to Fort Jefferson, a Civil War-era brick-clad fortress that formerly served as a naval prison before eventually earning preservation by the National Park Service. Today, visitors are free to explore the Pentagon-sized fort, and swim and snorkel in its surrounding turquoise waters. Such an epic saga requires some R&R, which you’ll find in spades at the Kimpton Key West. Historic in its own right, the boutique is a collection of mid-1800s buildings across half a city block, outfitted with a twinkling pool, Turkish robes in every guest room, and Isabel’s Bar, a poolside haunt for that Hemingway-approved Key West staple, the mojito. Cheers to a day of adventure!