Parkitecture in the National Parks

Parkitecture is an architectural style that developed in the early and middle 20th century in the National Park Service. The NPS wanted to create buildings that worked in harmony with the natural environment and historic surroundings.  There are a lot of elements in common with the Arts and Crafts movement- for example architects used a lot of native wood and stone. The Parkitecture style can be found in many National Park structures like entrances, lodges, and visitor centers. Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I really love the buildings in our National¬† Parks designed by architects like Mary Colter and Robert Reamer. The Desert View Watchtower in the Grand Canyon National Park and the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone are amazing. It is part of the National Park experience to stay at one of the amazing lodges like the Ahwahnee, the Bryce Canyon Lodge or the Wawona Hotel. I will never forget my first stay at the Old Faithful Inn and our visit to the Crow’s Nest!

I am excited to get a picture whenever I see the entrance signs to the parks, and the Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone is beautiful. 

Have fun exploring when you visit our parks and take plenty of pictures of the great PARKitecture.


The Crow’s Nest at Old Faithful Inn

High in the rafters at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, is an enchanting place called the Crow’s Nest. It is said that Robert Reamer, the architect that built the Inn designed it from a childhood fantasy. Bands used to play here for guests high in the air. It is 76 feet up and looks like an amazing tree house.

When I was researching our Yellowstone trip, I came across info on the Crow’s Nest. It turns out you can call the Old Faithful Inn bell desk, and if there is space during your stay, they will take you up to the Crow’s Nest and the roof of the Old Faithful Inn for flag lowering. I was lucky to read this in May when they first opened for the season. I was able to get a spot for our August trip!

We met at the bell desk at 6pm as requested. The bell person that we went up with told us another family might be joining us and was that OK. We said sure. We waited a bit more for the family to show up, but only the mother decided to go. (Wow, who would turn this down? Maybe someone was afraid of heights!) Then we set off for the stairs. They keep the stairs to this area locked for safety.

People were watching and wondering why we got to go past the gates. It pays to do some research ahead of time.

The Crow’s Nest was amazing, but the real honor was getting to lower the United States flag and state flags on the roof of the Inn.

This would be a great thing to surprise someone with on your trip. It is pretty high up, and the railings are low so be prepared. It can be windy as well. The view of the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful is stunning.