From dramatic cliffs to pristine forests, our national parks celebrate and preserve the beautiful landscapes that constitute the United States, and fortunately, many of them put together special Thanksgiving celebrations. Whether you’re already on the road or looking for somewhere special to chow down on turkey, here are a few national parks where you can celebrate Thanksgiving.
Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – North Carolina
The country’s most visited national park is the perfect place to celebrate one of the most beloved holidays – Thanksgiving.
In the heart of Southern Appalachia is the Fontana Village Resort, and their Mountainview Restaurant (which offers a vantage of the ancient Great Smoky Mountains) is serving up a veritable feast. For only $27.99 (or $13.99 for 5-12-year-olds), Thanksgiving guests will feast on both smoked and roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole and Blistered Brussel Sprouts with Benton's Hot Bacon Dressing. Other notable menu items include an assortment of desserts. Reservations should be made as soon as possible directly with the resort.
Yosemite National Park – California
Once known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, the Ahwanee Hotel is upholding that same standard with a grand lobby sporting multiple massive fireplaces and a dining room decorated with lofty 34ft beamed ceilings.
Celebrating Thanksgiving inside Yosemite National Park is an incredible experience made only more inviting by The Ahwanee’s decadent celebration. As of publication, the hotel's annual Thanksgiving event was still on the schedule.
Last year's prix fixe menu included starters like red kuri squash curry and chicories salad with main-course items like cider-brined turkey, baked sea bass, local beef rib roast, Kurobuta Pitt Ham or a spaghetti squash cake for the herbivores. Reservations should be made directly with the hotel.
Sorrel River Ranch at Arches National Park – Utah
Less than 20 miles east of Arches National Park sits Sorrel River Ranch, an upscale resort surrounded by the dramatic red rock’s for which the region is known.
Situated on 240 acres of land along the Colorado River, the serene hotel and spa typically offers a Thanksgiving buffet with carved turkey and prime rib, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the buffet has been replaced with a Thanksgiving dinner menu.
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Nicky’s Restaurant at Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
Estes Park is the gateway city to Rocky Mountain National Park, and along the river leading from the town to the park’s entrance is Nicky’s Restaurant & Lounge, a local eatery that hosts a Thanksgiving buffet every year.
This year, patrons will get a menu filled with Thanksgiving fare to chose from and the waitstaff will make the specialized plate. It's still all-you-can-eat affair so wear pants with an elastic band. A few of the Thanksgiving classics will include: roast turkey, prime rib, homemade dressing, mac and cheese, candied yams and champagne. Reservations can be made over the phone.
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Skyland at Shenandoah National Park – Virginia
Thanksgiving and fall colors go hand in hand, and some of the best autumn foliage is found in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.
At miles 41.7 & 42.5 on Skyline Drive inside the park itself is the Skyland restaurant, a full-service dining room with a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be missed. In place of the standard buffet, there will be a special menu filled with roast turkey and classic sides, many with a Southern flair.
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This article was originally published in November 2019 and updated in October 2020.