Healthier Meals at 5 National Parks

By: Lindsay Westley  |  July/August 2015

Take a trip to a National Park this summer and you're in for a happy surprise: healthier, more sustainable food choices.

Take a trip to a National Park this summer and you're in for a happy surprise: healthier, more sustainable food choices.
The National Park Service recently rolled out new healthier food standards, offering its 292 million annual visitors more fruits, vegetables and local foods. The Healthy and Sustainable Food Program means better choices, including more salads and no-sugar-added beverages on menus. Rest assured: you can still get your hands on summer classics—but now the burger in your hands is more likely to be grass-fed and organic. Of the 75 national parks (with food service) from sea to shining sea, here are five that go above and beyond the mandate with delicious, often organic and local food options that are so tasty you won’t even be tempted to pack a picnic.
Camp Denali
Denali National Park, Alaska (shown here)
Since it’s a bit of a challenge for food suppliers to get to this park, the staff at Camp Denali nurtures a large, organic greenhouse to supplement the menu. Additional purchased produce is organic and meats are locally raised. The menu changes depending on what’s available, but you might start the day with reindeer sausages and sourdough pancakes with lingonberries picked from the Alaskan tundra outside the lodge.
Crown Café
Statue of Liberty, New York
The food is appropriately American-style here—but the café has cut a significant number of calories from its menu thanks to healthier options. Plus, the hamburgers are now made from local and sustainably raised Angus beef and served on whole-wheat buns.
Muir Woods Café
Muir Woods National Monument, California
Try the chicken salad sandwich, made with humanely raised chicken from Petaluma, California, and fresh local greens, on organic focaccia from a nearby bakery. All the meat comes from California and nearly all produce is sourced within 30 miles of the park, making this a yummy destination for a post-hike sandwich or salad.
Lighthouse Restaurant
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
You have to take a three-hour ferry ride to access this rugged, isolated island—so it makes sense that the fish on the menu comes straight from Lake Superior. The Tobin Harbor Tacos are filled with whitefish caught in Rock Harbor, just a few thousand feet away from your table.
Metate Room
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Metate Room’s menu pays homage to the indigenous crops and spices cultivated in the dry, rocky canyon with dishes like the Poblano Relleno, a roasted poblano pepper with asadero cheese, roasted corn, Dove Creek black beans, ancho chile polenta and red pepper coulis.