The Best National Park Gateway Towns

These national park towns have everything you need start and finish your next adventure.

Every national park adventure starts somewhere, and its likely going when the hike is over and the adventure is done, you still have to return to civilization. These great gateway towns will make your return a lot easier to swallow.

Moab, Utah

Moab would be an adventure lover’s paradise even without Arches and Canyonlands National Parks nearby. Fuel up in the morning at the Peace Tree Juice Café and then, if you want a change of pace from hiking, go off-roading in a Jeep or test your legs and lungs on the world famous Slickrock mountain bike trail.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Acadia National Park may be what brings you to Bar Harbor, but there’s a lot to see beyond the park’s boundaries. Bar Harbor boasts a quaint downtown area and lively music scene. Visit the tasting room at Atlantic Brewing Company to sample some fresh, local brews.

Port Angeles, Washington

If your adventure in Olympic National Park leaves your legs begging for a rest you are in luck because Port Angeles has a lot of non-hiking activities to offer. Paddle in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then visit the Next Door Gastropub for cold beer and tasty pub grub.

Durango, CO

A short drive from Mesa Verde National Park takes you to beautiful and bustling Durango, Colorado. Take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and follow it up with a beer (or four) at Carver Brewing Co.

Jackson, Wyoming

Just a short drive from Grand Teton National Park, Jackson is a quintessential mountain town with a decidedly western vibe. Recover from your backcountry adventures with delicious organic eats at the Lotus Café.

Whitefish, Montana

If charming mountain hamlets loaded with art galleries, cafes, and brewpubs are your thing, you’ll love this Glacier National Park gateway town. A stop at the Buffalo Café (known as “the Buff” to the locals) is a requirement on any trip to Whitefish.

Springdale, UT

Just a few minutes from the entrance to Zion National Park, Springdale offers tons of charm and ample activities for any weary hiker. Wander through the town’s art galleries and then refuel at Oscar’s Café.

Grand Lake, Colorado

This western portal to Rocky Mountain National Park offers great dining and a rustic mountain vibe that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Estes Park. Fish the gold medal Colorado River headwaters or class it up with a show at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre.