With the summer season drawn to a close and the parks emptying as families head home, others depart for the great outdoors for some fall foliage, BBQ cookouts and killer scenic views. Whether you're looking to get away from it all or your outdoor style leans more towards glamping, America's National Parks offer gastronomic delights with unparalleled vistas.
From high-beamed restaurants with jaw-dropping views and a dress code required, to a lush mountain lodge at the end of a strenuous hike, national park eats are way more interesting than you may expect. What's a can of beans in the face of Olympic-style crab cakes in the Olympic National Park, for example? And what better to reward yourself with after a long day of hiking in the Grand Canyon, than a meal at The Phantom Ranch Canteen? Their hikers stew will satisfy even the most experienced trekkers.
Hiking sans coffee seems like the lowest of the low, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts the Mountain Brew Coffee House, so you'll have plenty of energy to take on one (er, outrun) of the 1,500 local black bears. After the day's long adventures, you'll really want nothing more than a relaxed vibe and an offering of local delicacies, like spiced elk loin or buffalo carpaccio, with mountains and lakes expanding before you.
So skip that portable grill, and forget your brown-bagged PB&J. From the crashing waters of Niagra Falls to the geysers of Yosemite, experiencing nature just got a whole lot tastier.
-Leora Novick, The Daily Meal
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