Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone National Park, WY)

Chances are you've seen a park lodge patterned after this one. Architect Robert Reamer broke from the traditional hotels of his day (Victorian, clapboard, frilly) to create a palatial log-and-stone building whose elegant rusticity has come to define the "parkitecture" of America's park lodges. Standing seven stories above its namesake geyser, the 386-room Old Faithful Inn originally opened its doors in 1904 to Northern Pacific Railway passengers seeking a cushy landing pad in the country's most famous wilds.

Four levels of balconies overlook the 76-foot-high massive stone fireplace and chimney (built from 500 tons of local rhyolite) that dominate the lobby beneath a 92-foot log ceiling. This is the ideal place for the guy who wants the classic first-time Yellowstone visit his dad had. Here's a tip: Outwit the hordes by catching a pre-breakfast eruption of your geyser neighbor, then sign up for a half-day hike with a park ranger to explore the backcountry's lesser known geothermal wonders, waterfalls, and bison stomping grounds.

More information: Rooms from $165 a night (book at least six months in advance); May to mid-October [yellowstonenationalparklodges.com].