Can You Drink Alcohol in National Parks?

This post may contain affiliate links.
A couple drinking alcohol in a national park

If you’ve followed us for long, you know that we enjoy spending as much time as possible exploring national parks. After a long day of adventuring, there’s nothing like a cold adult beverage.

But you better learn the rules before pouring something tall and strong in a national park. If not, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Today, we’re tipping our glasses to the national parks to help make sure you follow the rules. Pour yourself a drink, and let’s get started!

What Are National Parks?

National parks are land areas with unique natural, ecological, scenic, and cultural resources under federal protection. The goal is to provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, education, and scientific research.

However, the ultimate goal is the conservation of the natural environment for plants, animals, and humans to enjoy.

Currently, the National Park Service (NPS) manages 63 designated national parks in the United States. However, NPS officials are responsible for more than 420 units, covering 85 million acres in all 50 states. 

Their job is to establish and enforce rules and regulations that help protect the park’s wildlife, resources, and guests.

Can You Drink Alcohol in National Parks?

The laws around consuming alcohol in national parks will depend on the individual park. You’ll generally be fine if you do so at your campsite or using public-use areas. 

However, most parks prohibit alcohol in park and concession buildings. In addition, parks often create restrictions around potentially dangerous areas, like trails or bodies of water.

Ultimately, you’ll want to check the park’s rules before you pop the top on your favorite adult beverage. Even where it is legal, standard laws around age requirements, public intoxication, and open containers still apply. If caught, pleading ignorance likely won’t get you off the hook.

A group of friends drinking alcohol in a national park

What Is the Punishment for Illegally Drinking in National Parks?

Want to bring home a souvenir to remember your trip? We suggest something from the gift shop instead of a citation for illegally drinking alcohol in a national park. Crimes that occur in national parks usually fall under federal jurisdiction. 

In the most severe cases, you could face six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and probation for up to five years. In addition, those charged with these crimes often receive extended bans from national park units.

You don’t want to mess around when drinking alcohol in national parks. Know and follow the rules to avoid a tough legal battle.

Best Places to Legally Get a Drink in National Parks

Luckily, there are some fantastic places where you can drink legally in national parks. Here are some of the best spots to grab a cold adult beverage during your adventures.

The Ahwahnee Hotel (Yosemite National Park)

You can visit the Ahwahnee Bar inside the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. It offers a relaxing and elegant atmosphere for guests to relax after a long day of exploring the park.

Expect high ceilings, stone fireplaces, and some incredible views of nature. They have an extensive selection of wines, spirits, beers, and cocktails. If alcohol isn’t your thing, they also offer some delicious non-alcoholic drinks.

Some of the highlights on the menu include their Mai Tai, Ginger Margarita, and the Blackberry Bourbon Smash. If wine is more your thing, try some of their Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, or Pinot Noirs on the menu.

If all that exploring caused you to work up an appetite, they have some excellent options. Pair your drink with a charcuterie board, Panzanella salad, or inquire about their soup of the day. The food and drinks are just as good as the views.

Pro Tip: Eating while on the road can be expensive! See how we manage to save money on food while RVing

49th State Brewing (Denali National Park)

If exploring Denali National Park, we suggest stopping by 49th State Brewing. As you might guess, it gets its name from Alaska’s status as the 49th state admitted into the United States. 

They’re known for their extensive selection of craft beer, incredible food, and fun atmosphere. You’ll find a good mixture of locals and tourists sitting at their tables.

They serve their award-winning craft beer and some equally fantastic food. While you drink, eat, or wait for food, head to the beer garden to enjoy their lawn games or sit by the campfire. If you’re a designated driver, they also make sodas that guests find phenomenal alternatives to alcohol.

Zion Canyon Brew Pub (Zion National Park)

Looking for a place to wet your whistle while exploring the red rocks of Zion National Park? If so, Zion Canyon Brew Pub sits outside the park’s south entrance. They’re open seven days a week and have a menu of excellent lunch, dinner, and drink options. 

In addition, they create the perfect vibe to relax with live music and views of the southern Utah landscape.

Whether you’re looking for beer or wine, you’ll have plenty of options. Try the Zion Pale Ale, Springdale Amber, or the Echo Canyon IPA. 

They also have Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and other white and red wines. Remember to ask your server about any seasonal offerings they currently have off-menu.

Keep in Mind: So you can’t drink alcohol in a national park, but can you in a moving RV? Let’s find out!

The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern (Rocky Mountains National Park)

Rocky Mountains National Park visitors don’t have to go far to get a drink. The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern started as a sandwich shop in 1937 and has become a community-focused pub. 

You can enjoy the heat and smells generated by the wood stove in the winter and the epic views from the outdoor patio. While their cocktails are like nectar from heaven, don’t overlook their food options. 

Grab a starter and try the Alpine Manhattan, Colorado Cosmo, or Captain Colorado. Many of their drinks have a Colorado twist, making them stand out. They offer so many great draft beers that it’s hard to choose. If you want to taste as many as possible, grab a flight of four and pick your favorites.

El Tovar Hotel (Grand Canyon National Park)

The El Tovar Hotel at Grand Canyon National Park offers 78 rooms and the El Tovar Lounge. Grab a drink and head to the small veranda to enjoy a beautiful Arizona sunset. It’s the perfect spot to chat about the day or discuss upcoming adventures. 

However, don’t expect to come fresh off the trail; they prefer you to dress appropriately and discourage wearing shorts or flip-flops.

A Toast to the National Parks

Visiting the national parks can be a remarkable experience. We love ending a day in the parks with a cold beer and reflecting on our time there. 

We’ve met some incredible people during these times and encourage you to do the same. However, always ensure you follow the rules and drink responsibly in and outside national parks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article
A keystone hideout RV

A Breakdown of the Keystone Hideout

Next Article
View of a cruise ship

How Many People Fall Off Cruise Ships?