Celebrate National Park Week: 5 Luxe Places You Can ‘Camp’ Sans Tent


yellowstone national park - national park week 2012

National Park Week has begun! Many travelers will be taking advantage of free access to our country’s best national parks but, if they’re anything like this writer, won’t want to sleep in a tent after.

So, instead of camping try “glamping” at some of these great hotels near national parks that let you enjoy nature without giving up your creature comfort – no camping required.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Just minutes from Grand Teton National Park and a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, Four Seasons Jackson Hole offers a famed wildlife safari program, complete with an in-house wildlife biologist. Can’t make it during National Park Week? Enjoy special backstage access to these National Parks through the hotel’s summer packages.

Moonlight Basin, Montana
Located just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Moonlight is surrounded by Montana’s spectacular Rocky Mountains. Moonlight Basin’s Mountain Concierge Team can plan experiences from rafting on the Gallatin River to fly-fishing adventures and more.

Estes Park, Colorado
As a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, the year-old Della Terra Mountain Chateau is one of the area’s most luxe boutique properties.

Terranea Resort, California
This Destination Hotels & Resorts property located on the Southern California coast in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a unique starting point for exploration of Channel Islands National Park.

Travaasa Hana, Maui
The closest lodging to Haleakala National Park, filled with beautiful hikes through bamboo forests, past towering waterfalls and the famous “Pools of Ōheo.”

[Image courtesy of Yellowstone National Park]

Photo of the Day (6.16.10)

Every now and then you have to look Mother Nature in the face and just appreciate her value. Case in point: this shot, taken by our own Scott Carmichael, at Haleakala National Park in Maui.

The sweeping dunes and low-hanging clouds make a complex statement, but it’s nature at its best and it’s worth taking a moment to just look… and admire.

Have a photo you think shows the best Mother Nature has to offer? Add it to our Flickr pool and we might choose it to feature as a Photo of the Day.

Five of Hawaii’s hidden gems

While millions of visitors flock to Hawaii’s fabled golden shores, there are a number of sights around the state that are well-off the typical tourist map – and well worth a visit when in town.

Papohaku Beach, Moloka’i
Stoically occupying the west end of the island of Moloka’i, Papohaku Beach is one of the largest white sand beaches in the state of Hawaii, minus all of the crowds. Nearly three miles long and 100 yards wide, a day with more than 6 people is a crowded day at Papohaku. Visitors can gaze across the Kaiwi channel towards neighboring Oahu, its one million residents and crowded beaches merely an afterthought in this isolated corner of paradise. While campers must obtain a state permit for the campground, casual visits to this expanse of sand are free of charge.

Mo’okini Heiau, birthplace of King Kamehameha, Hawai’i
The first person to unite the Hawaiian Islands under a single system of rule, the journey of the revered King Kamehameha the Great began on this windswept pastureland out on Upolu Point. Set just outside of the sprawling Mo’okini heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple erected in 480 A.D. to Ku., the Hawaiian God of War, a small sign marks where Kamehameha was born in 1858. The sight is reachable via the Upolu airport road, though the final two miles to the heiau are on an uneven dirt road, and four-wheel drive is highly recommended if the road is wet or muddy. Hiking is a good backup option. Free admission.

The “Blue Room”, Kaua’i
Tucked away in the verdant jungles of northern Kaua’i, the “Blue Room” is a fresh-water pool that perfectly catches the sunlight, illuminating an exquisite shade of blue to the cold waters within. Located a short walk up a narrow, muddy trail, the combination of the lush green rainforest, vibrantly colored tropical flowers, and ice-blue water inside of the cave create a hidden treasure on Kaua’i that is literally minutes off of the normally beaten path. Free Admission.

Paliku Cabin, Maui
While thousands of visitors annually make the pre-dawn pilgrimage to witness the sunrise from the summit of Maui’s Haleakala Volcano, few venture down into the intricate network of hiking trails that line the crater floor of Haleakala National Park. Aside from the alien landscape and multi-hued cinder cones exploding from the nearby trails, there are three well maintained cabins inside of the crater that are available for public use, the most stunning of which is Paliku. This quaint cabin at 6,300 ft features an exquisitely lush landscape, and wild nene geese patrol the mist-shrouded hillside. Cabins in the park can be reserved at https://fhnp.org/wcr for a fee of $75/night.

Kaunolu Fishing VIllage, Lana’i
Little more than a rocky outcropping at the base of towering sea cliffs, this National Historic Landmark was once the site of a thriving village that was the recreation center of royalty. A favorite fishing spot of Kamehameha, Kaunolu also features “Kahekili’s Leap”, a spot from which warriors would throw themselves off of a 60 ft. cliff into the bay below to prove their valor. Exceptionally remote, Trilogy Excursions offers snorkeling trips to Kaunolu and the southwestern coastline of Lana’i. ($150/day)