Complete List of National Parks Open on Thanksgiving

by Amy Myers
complete-list-of-national-parks-open-on-thanksgiving
Photo by Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While some families cozy up on the sofa to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades, others are lacing up their hiking boots to head to their nearby national park to start the holiday with a bit of fresh air. The majority of our 63 national parks remain closed today, but the lucky folks in North Carolina, California, Utah, Colorado and Virginia will still be able to access the coveted trails.

Here’s the full list of national parks open on Thanksgiving Day:

  • Great Smoky Mountains – North Carolina
  • Shenandoah – Virginia
  • Rocky Mountain – Colorado (may be closed)
  • Yosemite – California
  • Arches – Utah

All five of these parks are hosting special events for the holiday, demonstrating traditions and historical moments of that very first Thanksgiving. Of course, you’ll want to check in with park rangers at the entrance gate for the status of these events as well as the trails. There may be some closures to accommodate fewer staff members during the federal holiday.

National Parks Host Thanksgiving Feast

Naturally, no Thanksgiving Day celebration is complete without a big ole dinner to share among strangers and family alike. All five parks will be hosting their own feasts at popular attractions where folks can sit down and enjoy a truly one-of-a-kind holiday meal.

Check out when and where to be at each park.

Great Smoky Mountains

  • When: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Where: Mountainview Restaurant in Fontana Village Resort
  • Fee: $27.99 per person (or $13.99 for 5-12-year-olds)

You can expect to enjoy a feast of smoked and roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts and lots of desserts.

Shenandoah National Park

  • When: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Where: Skyland Restaurant
  • Fee: $24.99 – $29.99

The ever-popular Skyland Restaurant will be offering three options for a full-course Thanksgiving meal – turkey dinner, honey-glazed ham and slow-roasted prime rib. You can also tack on a piece of pumpkin pie or Southern pecan pie for an additional fee.

Rocky Mountains

  • When: tentative
  • Where: Nicky’s Restaurant & Lounge in Estes Park

Typically, in past years, Nicky’s Restaurant has hosted a Thanksgiving feast of its own that’s the perfect way to shake off the chilly of November in the Rockies. However, it appears that the national park’s restaurant is closed for the time being. It is unclear whether the park is hosting a similar event elsewhere on the grounds.

Yosemite National Park

  • When: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Where: The Ahwahnee Hotel
  • Fee: $109.31 per person (or $54.65 for 6-12-year-olds)

The Ahwahnee Hotel goes all out for this American holiday, hosting a touchless buffet full of goodies like sweet corn soup, pan-roasted wild salmon, dry-brined Diestel turkey, Knob Creek bourbon-caramel bread pudding and much, much more.

Arches National Park

  • When: All Thanksgiving weekend
  • Where: Sorrel River Ranch
  • Fee: Contact 877-317-8244 for rates

Tucked beside the Colorado River, the Thanksgiving feast in Arches National Park’s Sorrel River Ranch is just as scenic as it is succulent. Not to mention, when you book the Thanksgiving package, you’re also getting access to a guided tour of the park. Enjoy some of the most wondrous sandstone creations in the country, and then sit down for a full meal complete with brown sugar pit ham, sweet potato casserole, walnut sage stuffing, and more.

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