Travelers don’t have to rough it by staying in national parks unless they want to.
When Vince Chi visited Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2019, he spent two nights in a cabin and one night in a conical tent. While the cabin was more comfortable, he said the tent felt closer to nature, providing a more unique experience.
“It was raining and (the tent) didn’t keep all the water out,” he said. “I would consider this closer to traditional camping than a cabin.”
Visitors to the national park can choose from a wide range of accommodation, from simple and luxurious tents to cabins and caravans. While some options offer more comfort, others are less expensive and may offer more adventure.
Here’s a look at accommodation options at three of America’s most popular parks.
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yellowstone national park
Under Canvas offers premium tents near Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, among other places, and the company hopes to combine nature with comfort, said May Lilley, chief marketing officer. Some of these tents have private bathrooms and heating sources, and visitors can have meals or alcoholic drinks, she added.
“Most of our customers are there because they either want amazing night skies for stargazing or to wake up and hear birds chirping,” Lilley said. “It really gives you a sense of belonging.”
Tents start at around $200 per night, comparable to the price of nearby motels and hostels. Larger parties can consider renting smaller houses on Airbnb and Vrbo, which might be cheaper per person.
Travelers who don’t mind simple tents can set up their own at the park’s campgrounds for around $30 a night. One must reserve.
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Grand Canyon National Park
Ben Cox from Missouri visited the Grand Canyon with his family and stayed in a trailer pulled behind their truck. Because her parents are both teachers, her family wanted to travel more inexpensively.
“My brother and I had bunk beds, then my parents had a bed. It’s pretty tight, but manageable. It has a bathroom and a small kitchen and stuff. And then it’s nice because you don’t have to move all your stuff around like a hotel,” Cox said. “It’s nice to travel by car instead of flying and seeing things along the way.”
Trailer Village near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon can accommodate trailers. Visitors can make reservations online starting at $64 per night. The National Park Service also operates two campgrounds with sites for $18 a night.
Visitors who do not own trailers or who live too far from a park entrance can consider staying in yurts or cabins available on various home rental websites, usually ranging from $50 to $100 per person and by night.
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Yosemite National Park
AutoCamp Yosemite offers Airstream suites, luxury tents and cabins, accommodating 2 to 5 people, depending on accommodation, according to marketing manager Julie Saunders.
“By removing the apprehension of having to do all the planning for an outdoor experience, outdoor accommodation brands like AutoCamp have helped lower the barrier to entry for populations who may not have -never considered an outdoor trip before,” Saunders said.
Larger groups might find cabins and cottages more comfortable and offer more privacy, and various options can be found on home rental websites.
Xinle Hou visited Yosemite with seven friends in November 2019. She said they stayed in small houses nearby and inside the park rather than hotels because they played games late at night and didn’t want to disturb the neighbors.
“I think the reason we chose there over the hotels was basically because it was too crowded,” Hou said. “We were trying to rent accommodation entirely to ourselves.”