A visit to one of these lodges can change your vacation from good to unforgettable.
Best new wilderness escape: Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
Why we love it: Think of Kenai Fjords as the best of Alaska compressed into 1,046 square miles (roughly a quarter of the size of L.A. County). Icy blue fjords? Check. Glaciers? Check. Whales, bears, sea otters? Check, check, and check.
Best place for comfort food: Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia
Wuksachi Lodge serves meat loaf and pork tenderloin in the modern/rustic dining room.
Best place for a drink: Farley Bar at Cavallo Point Lodge
Why we love it: Cozy, convivial Farley Bar, in one of Cavallo Point Lodge's old army buildings, knows its way around a negroni. Food runs from ceviche to house-baked breads, and the Golden Gate Bridge view from some window tables will lift your heart.
Most romantic: Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic
Why we love it: Long beach strolls, skies that veer from sun-splashed to stormy, and tempestuous waves-that's right, Washington's Kalaloch is like a college romance. Except here you can take a break from it all with a (legal) drink at the sweet main lodge. The rustic 1920s Bluff Cabins, where weathered fir abounds, hold heart-stopping views of the Pacific.
Best lawn party: Wawona Hotel, Yosemite
Have a Saturday afternoon barbecue on the lawn of Yosemite's Wawona Hotel.
Best for families: Roosevelt Lodge, Yellowstone
Why we love it: Tucked away near the park's northern boundary, Roosevelt is what summer camp should be, with Lincoln Log cabins and Wild West activities like horseback and stagecoach rides.
Best use of mules: Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon
Why we love it: The only way to get to the ranch, an oasis at the bottom of the canyon, is by river raft, a steep 9.6-mile trek, or a mule ride. Mules can also haul your duffel if you hike. Mail? Delivered by mule.
Best place to have a meal: The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite
Why we love it: Yes, the Ahwahnee typically books up a year in advance. Too hard to get a room? Fine. But you can still visit the dining room, which, with its lofty beamed ceiling and views of the valley, is one of the most beautiful public spaces in the world.
Best time warp: Lake Yellowstone Hotel
Georgian architecture, string quartets in the lobby-the Lake Yellowstone Hotel is like Jane Austen in the Rockies.
Biggest pain and gain: Granite Park Chalet, Glacier
Why we love it: You hike six hours along the top of the Rockies to get to this 1914 Montana chalet, but they're awe-inducing hours. Life is simple here: You cook your own food in the kitchen, but you get a private bedroom and can rent linen and blankets if you don't want to lug your sleeping bag.