Many of you know that finding the “perfect” lodge or cabin doesn’t happen very often. And after a recent stay at what I would call the best lodging gem ever that is located in the United States, I thought it might be fun to share our Top Lodging Gems.

As some of you know, the photos showcased on the Wallner Photography website are taken on trips organized by Kristin (aka, Wallner Photography’s travel organizer extraordinaire). She scours the Internet using various search techniques to find lodges or cabins that have certain criteria we want.

When we plan a photo trip, we have several criteria we look for and below is what we used to create our Top Lodging Gems list. The list is in no particular order.

  • Location to wildlife or park – Will it take you a half hour to get to the park from your lodge? We try to find the closest lodging to the park since our main goal is to see wildlife or to experience the park.
  • Price – We always love a good deal! But, we’re willing to pay a little extra to save time traveling to and from our photo destination, which often is a national park, state park or other wildlife attraction.
  • Kitchen – We’re not foodies, so having a kitchen enables us to get out the door quickly after breakfast to see wildlife at the crack of dawn.
  • Privacy – There’s nothing more alluring than finding a lodge or cabin that offers privacy.
  • Outdoor space – Our preference is to find locations where there will be wildlife, so many of these locations are off the beaten path in quiet locations with fewer people.
  • Season – The time of year can make a big difference depending on what you want to do. If you want to see animals, sometimes going to a location during the peak season isn’t the best time since there will be a lot of other people there, which may scare away the wildlife. The off season also can be less expensive.
  • Hot tub – This is always high on our list, but we won’t eliminate a lodge or cabin from the gem list if there isn’t a hot tub.
  • Not for kids, pets – Some of these lodges/cabins may not accept children or pets. We usually look for locations with fewer children and pets since those tend to scare wildlife away. You’ll need to check with each property about their offerings or limitations.
For our Top Lodging Gems list, we didn’t include what we call “hit or miss” lodges or cabins, meaning not all rooms or cabins at that location are good. For example, we wanted to include the little cabins near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. However, if you don’t book early, you could end up with the cabin in the far back away from Old Faithful rather than in the cabin they gave us. We could watch Old Faithful while resting on the bed after a long day of hiking (see photo below)!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing Wallner Photography’s Top Lodging Gems until we get to the No. 1 Lodging Gem, which is Spectacular!

And, of course, this list was compiled from the lodges and cabins where we have stayed at over the past 8 years in the United States. If you have any lodge/cabin suggestions for a future blog, let me know! Email me at: