Winter is here and Yellowstone National Park has some exciting new adventures designed to introduce you to its snowy magic.
HOWL WITH THE WOLVES IN YELLOWSTONE THIS WINTER
Yellowstone National Park Lodges has announced its line-up of Winter Getaway and Adventure packages for the 2011/2012 season.
The park’s winter season begins Dec. 18, 2011 with the opening of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel opens Dec. 20, 2011. The lodges provide the only wintertime accommodations within the park. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel will close for the season March 5, 2012, and Old Faithful Snow Lodge will close March 4, 2012.
Each package includes Xanterra’s “Snow Card” good for 10 percent off meals, in-park transportation, tours, ski shop services and select retail items. Rates quoted here are per person, double occupancy, plus tax and utility fee.
“Trail of the Wolf” provides travelers with an opportunity to explore the park’s interior with a guide and learn about its abundant natural features in places such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as well as to observe wildlife in the Northern Range of the park. The package includes guided snowmobiling in the interior of the park and wildlife watching by van in the park’s Northern Range. Also included are three nights of lodging split between the two lodges, round-trip guided snowmobile tour between Old Faithful and Mammoth, “Wake up to Wildlife” tour of the Lamar Valley, two breakfasts per person, welcome gift, one-hour hot tub rental, unlimited ice skating and skates and Snow Card. Rates start at $439 per person
When kids go back to school, many adult travelers head to U.S. national parks. Depending on the location, the parks are visited by fewer people during the fall months, and temperatures are typically moderate. No matter where you go, however, there are plenty of appealing activities, as well as lodging choices for every budget.
Here are three examples of autumn-season national park adventures:
Death Valley National Park, California. Unlike most national parks, fall is just the beginning of the park’s peak season. Concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates the luxurious, 66-room Inn at Furnace Creek, which opens its doors for the season in mid-October. Xanterra also operates the year-round Ranch at Furnace Creek. The resort features three restaurants, lounge, gift stores, golf course, swimming pools and more. Activities in Death Valley include golfing at the world’s lowest golf course, horseback riding, Jeep tours, bicycling, tours of historic Scotty’s Castle, hiking and touring by car.
Fire up the grill. Pull out the road maps. It’s just days to Memorial Day Weekend, the traditional start of Get-Outdoors-Summer’s-Here! Season.
This summer, include a visit to a national wildlife refuge in your plans. Thrill to a hidden world of natural wonders while your kids learn the joy of healthy outdoor activity. Take pride in America’s Great Outdoors and your natural heritage.
Here’s another good reason to visit a national wildlife refuge:
National wildlife refuges make great mid-route stops on long drives. The shortest of detours off many interstate highways lead to federally protected wildlife havens and relief for your jangled nerves.
Just two examples:
• Heading south to Florida on I-95? In South Carolina, take exit 102 to Santee National Wildlife Refuge, a few minutes away. Scenic Santee Refuge is a magnet for hawks, eagles, wading birds and songbirds. It’s the historic stomping grounds of Revolutionary War hero Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion. And it’s an anthropological wonder — the site of 1,000-year-old National Register-listed ceremonial Santee Indian mounds.
Winter is a great time to plan national park trips because there is still a broad range of room options available in popular parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. Although some of the iconic lodges are filling up during peak times, there is plenty of availability.
1. Be informed. Visit Xanterra’s web site at www.xanterra.com for general information on the parks operated by Xanterra as well as lodging descriptions, rates and availability. Another good source of information on national parks is the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov.
2. Be web-savvy. Rooms can be booked online at:
- and www.furnacecreekresort.com.
Booking online is usually the quickest way to secure a reservation. Travelers can check room availability too via Xanterra’s online reservations calendar.
3. Confirm that you have the full online picture. Some lodges will list various room types as part of drop down menus. If you do not click on the down arrow only one room type will be visible. And guess which room type is the first to show up as sold out?
4. Be flexible with your choice of lodge. Some of the larger parks such as Grand Canyon and Yellowstone feature multiple lodges in spectacular settings. While Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn and Grand Canyon’s El Tovar are best-known and tend to fill up first, other lodges offer history, comfortable accommodations and their own appeal.
5. Avoid the crowds. Regardless of which park you are visiting, consider traveling during the first two weeks of June, the last 10 days of August or the first two weeks of September.