“National Park culture” — and why we love it

by John Pierce and Bruce Gourley

Old Faithful Inn (opened 1904) in Yellowstone National Park at sunrise on a foggy morning. Photo by Bruce Gourley.

Nurturing Faith Experiences often take place in and around U.S. National Parks due to their natural beauty and inspiring settings for getting away from daily routines and into places of exploration and reflection.

National Park lodging is some of the highest-demand vacation housing in the nation. Acquiring the needed space requires our diligence in making reservations more than a full year in advance.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we find these historic lodges and cabins to be unequalled in providing the best settings for experiencing the wonders of wilderness and the healthy group dynamic we seek.

The pace is slowed and daily travel is reduced. These historic lodges, inns and cabins reveal exceptional craftsmanship, offer good food and provide lobbies and porches that calm our minds. And remarkable views of nature are right out the windows and doors.

Living spaces vary within park locations. We cobble together available reservations and do our best to match them with participants. However, there is no guarantee that a person will have a particular type of room — and making changes is not an option due to high demand.

Lake McDonald Lodge (opened 1914) in Glacier National Park. Photo by Bruce Gourley.

Perhaps “rustic” best describes National Park lodge culture — since one cannot expect televisions, cell service and Internet in all locations. Rooms vary greatly by size and amenities. Yet they are always clean and comfortable — as long as one doesn’t expect each setting to provide more than the necessities.

Older inns may not have elevators though bellhops can assist with luggage. In some cases, a room may have a shared bath (though we seek to inform participants of such ahead of time). One’s room may be small or have a small sink and shower — but look out the window or go down to the spacious lobby!

All of this to say that our emphasis is on providing the closest proximity possible to the natural wonders we are exploring and to offer a unique setting in which to share these small-group experiences. For us, there is no place we’d rather be than in a historic National Park lodge — which provides beauty and relaxation that far exceeds marble vanities, cable TV and mints on our pillows.

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