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5 breweries near national parks

Toast the National Park Service centennial at breweries from Arkansas to Wyoming.
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Big Bend Brewing Co

Photo by Jennifer Boomer

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year, nature lovers are flocking to breweries in and around national parks. Check out these five favorites and plan your summer of adventure.

Hot Springs National Park
At this park, visitors can tour historic bathhouses, bathe in hot springs or imbibe the creations of Superior Bathhouse Brewery, the only brewery actually located inside a national park. Using soft water directly from the park’s 47 hot springs—piped in at approximately 143 degrees Fahrenheit—the brewery creates Chaudfontaine Noire (dark strong ale), Chaudfontaine Trente-Trois (triple), Barn Burner (smoky wild yeast saison), Superior Pale Ale (British-style pale ale) and more. And the ambiance? “It has this kind of bathhouse chic atmosphere to it,” says owner Rose Schweikhart, noting the bathhouse was built in 1916 and features hexagonal subway tiles on the floor and marble wainscoting on the walls; the bar was even constructed from the bathhouse’s original check-in desk.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Located just 3.6 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park Brewery is an easy stop for the 4 million visitors who hike the park’s 300-plus miles of trails, drive scenic Trail Ridge Road, fish the many lakes and spy on wildlife like elk and bighorn sheep. Situated next to a go-kart track and a giant slide, the laid-back, family-friendly restaurant and brewery features a deck, pool tables, a sample bar and an open floor plan where visitors can survey the scene below. This summer, it’ll have a pineapple passion fruit wheat beer on tap as well as favorites Bear Lake Blueberry Wheat, The Shining Pale Ale and the 10% ABV Estes Park Barley Wine.

Big Bend National Park
Vast expanses of desert, deep canyons, the forested Chisos Mountains, glorious isolation and the Rio Grande—which separates the U.S. from Mexico—define Big Bend National Park. It’s a best-kept secret: Only about 300,000 people journey to the park each year to soak up the local culture, see cacti and sneak peeks of black bears, mountain lions, coyotes and javelinas (hopefully while avoiding the park’s several indigenous species of rattlesnake.) Big Bend Brewing Co. is located in Alpine, Texas, just over an hour away (but virtually next door in the vast Lone Star State), and has a rustic ambience enhanced by the taproom and porch’s mountain views. Visitors sip Tejas Lager, Terlingua Gold and La Frontera IPA along with this summer’s new additions Tejas Negra amber ale and Tejas Clara. “The beers are specifically brewed to honor the biculturalism of this border region,” says Vice President of Operations Mahala Guevara.

Yosemite National Park
Known for its stunning waterfalls as well as iconic rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan, the 1,200 square miles of Yosemite National Park are packed with glorious meadows, great expanses of wilderness, ancient giant sequoias, the high country of Tuolumne Meadows and beyond. Head through Tioga Pass at the eastern entrance and pop into June Lake Brewing, located just 20 minutes away. June Lake’s four mainstays—Alpers Trout Pale Ale, Deer Beer Brown Ale, SmoKin Porter and Hutte Double IPA—and this summer’s specialty, Silver Lake Saison, all have one secret ingredient in common: “Eastern Sierra Nevada water,” says co-owner Sarah Walsh. “Everything comes from underground springs and that’s what makes our beer exceptional.”

Grand Teton National Park
Snake River Brewing, located about 10 miles from Grand Teton National Park, is named for the famed river that winds through the 480-square-mile reserve. The brewery’s Jenny Lake Lager pays homage to one of the park’s iconic lakes while helping fund the Jenny Lake Restoration Project. The two-story brewery and restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming, is often packed with locals and visitors enjoying the indoor brewpub ambience or soaking up the patio’s summer sun after a day taking in views of the Teton Range and spotting grizzly and black bears, bison, elk, wolves and other critters in the park. This summer’s offerings include Freedom Pilsner, Hoback Hefeweizen and Blank Czech Pilsner, in addition to mainstays like Pako’s EYE-P-A and Zonker Stout, along with several barrel-aged releases.

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