06/14/2013 01:29 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2013

Great National Park Lodges (PHOTOS)

You pull yourself out of bed, bring your coffee to the front porch, and there -- right in front of you -- is the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon.

That's the appeal of staying at El Tovar, which has graced the rim of the canyon since 1905. But it's hardly alone; you'll find great national park lodges all over the U.S. and Canada. And staying at one doesn't mean camping and freeze-dried dinners. The best lodges offer gourmet food, personalized service, and rustic yet often elegant interiors.

Many are landmarks dating back to the park system's early days. In 1903, officials at the Northern Pacific Railroad were inspired to create a lodge with local logs and stone. The result, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, has a towering lobby that became a model for national park architecture. For something a bit more modern, try the 23 renovated suites and heated outdoor pool at Alta Crystal Resort by Mount Rainier, WA.

You might even encounter a celebrity or prime minister during your stay. (The El Tovar staff once had to hush Paul McCartney because a guest complained about his piano playing.) But that doesn't mean the prices are out of reach. Double rooms start at about $180 at El Tovar and $165 at Oregon's Crater Lake Lodge.

Find out how the right lodge will improve your next national park visit.

--Andrea Cooper

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Great National Park Lodges (PHOTOS)