U.S. Park Lodging is a private service that can help you find accommodation in some of our country's most popular tourist destinations.  Check here often for updates and specials on lodging and activity opportunities in and around America's National Parks!

Bear Attacks: How To Avoid A Grizzly

Nine hundred pounds of muscle with jaws that can crush a bowling ball all rushing toward you at a speed of 30 mph, what do you do? You may not be faced with a 6-foot-tall grizzly on a daily basis, but before you start your weekend hike through Yellowstone National Park you may need to study up on just what to do if you do bump into any variety of bears. With at least 1,500 grizzlies and 300,000 black bears in the United States alone we have a few tips that will help you stay safe as you travel through bear country this season.

how to survive a grizzly bear attack

How to survive a grizzly bear attack

5 Reasons To Stay In a Yellowstone Lodge Instead of a Tent or RV.

 

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When traveling to Yellowstone National Park your options for lodging are limitless. Some might want to go the camping route but we feel that staying in a lodge or hotel in or around Yellowstone is the way to go. We’ve listed the top five reasons why we feel this way.

1-)Availability! Yellowstone only has 12 campgrounds with a total of just over 2000 campsites. Considering that over 2.3 million people visit the park each summer these sites fill up very quickly. National Park Reservations handles reservations bookings for nine lodges inside the park and more than twenty five lodges just outside the park borders. Offering many types of accommodation from a standard hotel room to a luxury stand alone cabin.

2-) Historic Lodges! The Old Faithful Inn, built in 1903/04 is the largest log hotel still in use today! Right next door is the Old Faithful Lodge built in 1928. Both of these lodges are on the National Historic Registry! Both are also located in the heart of Yellowstone. With in walking distance of the Old Faithful Geyser the location of these lodges are unbeatable! Just looking out your window you have a great possibility of seeing all different wildlife.

 

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3-) Safety from the elements! Yellowstone is anywhere from 5,282 feet to 11,358 feet in elevation so weather is changing all the time and can be quite brutal at times. It is not unlikely for a storm to roll in unannounced in Yellowstone. So having a nice warm dry place to escape to is always a comforting thought. One of the reasons a person comes to Yellowstone National Park is to see the wildlife. While not to many people are seriously wounded, there are injuries from animal human contact each year. Some of the animals you might encounter are bears, coyotes, elk and the most common, bison. Bison are quite defensive and it is well advised to keep your distance. After all they are wild animals!

4-) Comfort and convenience! There is nothing like crawling into a nice big comfortable bed at the end of a long day of adventures, or taking a nice hot shower after cross country skiing or snowshoeing! How about the simple convenience of a toilet? You don’t realize how much you use the bathroom until there isn’t one to use! Yellowstone does get cold so the convenience of heat is nice to have available. Even in the summer the temperature can dip down to freezing in the evenings. Then at the opposite end it can get into the high 80′s or low 90′s in the summer also, so air conditioning is a treat to enjoy after a soak in the hot springs or a trip to the summit of Purple Mountain.

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5-)Location, location, location! Yellowstone covers 3472 square miles. That’s over 2.2 million acres! With lodges at every entrance and in several different locations inside the park location is everything! Depending on what you are there to see we have something for you! Each spot having something special to offer. Whether you are at the north entrance for the hot springs, or the Lake Yellowstone area, or the south entrance on your way down to the Tetons we have a lodge that will suit you and yours!

We hope that your experience in Yellowstone is like none other! Full of adventure, relaxation, inspiration, and comfort!

You can learn more about all of the hotels and lodging options inside Yellowstone and it’s gateway communities by visiting http://www.usparklodging.com/yellowstone/

Old Faithful Inn: Yellowstone Accommodations With Steadfast Rustic Charm

Old Faithful Inn | Yellowstone Located next to the Old Faithful Geyser, in the Southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park, sits the historic and rustic Old Faithful Inn. A large log structure with a towering pitched roof and an air of permanence about it, the Old Faithful Inn sits quiet and unpresuming in this harsh land of thermal waters and geysers.

Built during the warm summer and harsh winter of 1903-04, from the timbers of native lodge-pole pines and quarried stones from the Black Sand Basin, the Old Faithful Inn was created to enhance its breathtaking surroundings by mimicking the shape and temperament of the land. Surviving earthquakes, fires, and the sands of time, the Old Faithful Inn, like the geyser it was named after, is a constant seemingly permanent fixture in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Landmark which is most famous for its colossal lobby. Made up of a lattice work of balconies and lodge-pole pine pillars, guests are able to gaze up seven stories and soak in the vastness and scale of the historic log building. Set off from the center of the lobby is a gigantic stone fireplace that features four hearths were guests can gather after a long day in Yellowstone National Park and reflect. A large custom made ironwork clock hangs on the North face of the stone chimney. With an activities desk, gift shop, and lounge nearby, the lobby creates the ideal place for groups to gather and plan their next adventure in the park.

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The Old Faithful Inn is situated adjacent to it’s namesake geyser and guests can check the schedule for the next eruption in the lobby or even explore Geyser Hill and the Castle-Grand Area for other geysers and thermal features. If you’re hungry, grab some lunch or an ice cream treat from the Bear Paw Deli before you take off on a hike in the park. Guests looking for tours in the historic yellow busses can head over to the activities desk to sign up. If you’re more of the independent type who prefer exploring on their own, whether you stay in the area or head out to other locations in Yellowstone National Park, you will find plenty of sights and activities. During hot summer days, head over to Lake Yellowstone and rent a boat or if you’re into fishing, head over to one of the streams. Get wet and cool off on a rafting trip or grab your camera and head off to the Lamar and Hayden Valleys where wildlife is abundant.

After a day of activities in the park, dine at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room or browse the Gift Shop for some souvenirs. Need to fuel up after exploring all day? There’s a service station nearby and a general store too for supplies.

Accommodations

Old Faithfull Inn: Standard Room

Suites

The East Wing, which was extended and finished construction in 1913, added numerous new rooms to the historic Old Faithful Inn and set to lie parallel to the famous Old Faithful Geyser. The Old Faithful Inn offers six Suites, each with a parlor and separate bedroom. Located on the front side of the East Wing, each Suite is furnished with two queen beds and an en suite bathroom. Suites offer telephones, elevator access, and mini refrigerators.

Semi-Suites

The East Wing, which was extended and finished construction in 1913, added numerous new rooms to the historic Old Faithful Inn and set to lie parallel to the famous Old Faithful Geyser. The Old Faithful Inn offers four Semi-Suites. Each Semi-Suite offers more space than a East Wing Standard Room, with a sitting area in the room with a sofa and two queen beds. These rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom.

Geyserside Rooms

The East Wing, which was extended and finished construction in 1913, added numerous new rooms to the historic Old Faithful Inn and set to lie parallel to the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Renovated in 1992-93, the Geyserside Rooms offer limited views of the Geyser Basin and the Old Faithful Geyser. Furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds, these rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom. Geyserside Rooms offer telephones, elevator access, and a select number of ADA rooms for guests with disabilities.

East Wing Standard Rooms

The East Wing, which was extended and finished construction in 1913, added numerous new rooms to the historic Old Faithful Inn and set to lie parallel to the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Renovated in 1992-93, the East Wing Standard Rooms face towards the rear of the hotel and are furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds. These rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom. East Wing Standard Rooms offer telephones, elevator access, and a select number of ADA rooms for guests with disabilities.

West Wing Frontside Rooms

The West Wing, built in 1927, was the final addition to the historic Old Faithful Inn. Shaped like a “Y”, the West Wing looks towards Geyser Hill and the Castle-Grand Area. Renovated in 1998-99, the West Wing Frontside Rooms offer limited views of the Geyser Basin Area. Modernly furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds, these rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom. West Wing Frontside Rooms have telephones and are accessible by stairs only.

West Wing Standard Rooms

The West Wing, built in 1927, was the final addition to the historic Old Faithful Inn. Shaped like a “Y”, the West Wing looks towards Geyser Hill and the Castle-Grand Area. Renovated in 1998-99, the West Wing Standard Rooms face towards the rear of the hotel and are modernly furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds. These rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom. West Wing Standard Rooms have telephones and are accessible by stairs only.

Old House 2 Room Units with Bath

Located in the section of the hotel now known fondly as the Old House, the Old House 2 Room Units with Bath were completed during the first phase of construction in 1904 of the famous Old Faithful Inn. Simplistic yet charming, these rooms reflect the unique style and structure of the time period with knotted lodgepole pine paneling and custom ironwork fixtures . Located on either the first or third floor and furnished with one queen bed in each bedroom, these rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom.

Old House 2 Room Units without Bath

Located in the section of the hotel now known fondly as the Old House, the Old House 2 Room Units without Bath were completed during the first phase of construction in 1904 of the famous Old Faithful Inn. Simplistic yet charming, these rooms reflect the unique style and structure of the time period with knotted lodge-pole pine paneling and custom ironwork fixtures . Located on either the first or second floor and furnished with one queen bed in one bedroom and two queen beds in the other bedroom, these rooms are ideal for larger groups or families. Central bath houses are located just down the hall, and bath robes are provided in each room for guests’ convenience and comfort.

Old House Rooms with Bath

Located in the section of the hotel now known fondly as the Old House, the Old House Rooms with Bath were completed during the first phase of construction in 1904 of the famous Old Faithful Inn. Simplistic yet charming, these rooms reflect the unique style and structure of the time period with knotted lodge-pole pine paneling and custom ironwork fixtures . Furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds, these rooms also have the convenience of an en suite bathroom.

Old House Rooms without Bath

Located in the section of the hotel now known fondly as the Old House, the Old House Rooms without Bath were completed during the first phase of construction in 1904 of the famous Old Faithful Inn. Simplistic yet charming, these rooms reflect the unique style and structure of the time period with knotted lodge-pole pine paneling and custom ironwork fixtures . Furnished with one queen bed or two queen beds, these rooms are ideal for those who wish to experience the historic hotel as it was when it first opened. Central bath houses are located just down the hall, and bath robes are provided in each room for guests’ convenience and comfort.

If you are looking for history and comfort, look no farther than the Old Faithful Inn. With its rustic charm, numerous guest rooms, fine dining, and spectacular sights, the Old Faithful Inn offers the perfect location to spend your vacation in Yellowstone National Park.

To find out more information about the Old Faithful Inn, visit http://usparklodging.com/yellowstone/old_faithful_inn.php. If you’d like to reserve your own piece of history at the Old Faithful Inn, contact our knowledgeable staff at 866.256.9046 or fill out our easy and convenient online booking form.  

Kachina Lodge

Kachina Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park

Kachina LodgeImagine waking up to a sunrise over the majestic Grand Canyon, elk and mule deer grazing in the lawn, an endangered California condor glides by in the morning updrafts. Too good to be true? Not for those that stay in the Kachina Lodge, located on the south rim of the incredible Grand Canyon National Park. Arizona attracts 5 million people a year to come and visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon holds a place of honor along with such places as the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Everest. Plan for adventure and excitement as well as deep thought and quiet retrospect in the one of a kind grandest of all canyons.

Explore the many attractions that the Grand Canyon has to offer. The South Rim has breathtaking viewpoints. Investigate the Grand Canyon Village’s historic buildings and overwhelming vistas. This is also where the park’s most popular Bright Angel Trail begins. Inquire about the different rafting companies that offer a range of scenic river tours, from relaxing smooth water experiences to fast paced whitewater adventures. Check out the very popular mule rides that are offered year round, or find a secluded spot to star gaze. Learn amazing things at the ranger interpretive talks and informational museums. Other popular activities include hiking, biking, motorcoach tours, Aerial tours, and jeep tours. A free park shuttle is offered by the park service, providing an environmentally friendly way to get around the park. Check out a shuttle schedule, there are more times and routes offered during the summer.

Open year round the Kachina Lodge is a great place to start the day planning for the fantastic adventures that the Grand Canyon has to offer. When arriving at the south rim check into the Kachina Lodge rooms with the friendly staff of the El Tovar Hotel. The location on the south rim make reservations at Kachina Lodge well worth the stay. Built in the 1960′s with thick concrete walls, this contemporary lodge is decorated in the subtle colors of the canyon.

While there is no on-site dining available at Kachina Lodge, the El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge both have excellent restaurants and are located just a short walking distance to either side of the Kachine Lodge. There are other options located further away as well, which cater to every need and appetite one could have.

There are 49 rooms to choose from at the Kachine Lodge. All rooms use evaporative coolers for temperature regulation. Room amenities include either 2 queen beds or a single king, a refrigerator, coffee, TV, Telephones, a safe, and a full bathroom. There are rooms available for those people with disabilities. Due to the fact that requests for canyon view rooms are high, these rooms are often booked up much more quickly. Sorry but pets and smoking are not allowed in any of the Kachina Lodge rooms. Parking is free but limited.

Adventure and quiet awe-inspiring moments abound in Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park. This marvelous place will always stay in the hearts and souls of those lucky enough to glimpse the wondrous chasm. Enjoy the affordability of the centrally located Kachina Lodge at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Reserve the trip of a lifetime today by visiting: www.usparklodging.com/grandcanyon or call toll free 866.315.2980.

Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins – Historic Lodging on the South Rim

When visiting the south rim of the Grand Canyon, why not stay at the rustic Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins?  Registered as a National Historic Landmark, Bright Angel sits a few feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Bright Angel provides basic lodging for visitors to the Grand Canyon and  it is the starting point for mule rides.   They have a restaurant which is open for breakfast lunch and dinner.  Lodging at the south rim of the Grand Canyon can be booked up to 13 months prior to arrival date.  So securing lodging on the rim can be difficult.  

You will find most lodging at Bright Angel is geared toward the individual hiker or couples.  In the Lodge , the largest bed is a double and there is only one.  No space is available for a roll-a-way bed or cot.  You can stay in a room with a bathroom or a more budget friendly room with a shared tub/shower located down the hall, or choose the room with no bathroom.  All rooms in the lodge are non smoking and are very basic.  If you  require a TV while staying  at  the Bright Angel, you will want to choose one of their cabins. Each cabin only has 1 Queen size bed although certain cabins can house a roll-away increasing the maximum occupancy to three people.  The historic cabins do not have views of the Canyon, but the Rim Cabins do.  There are also Rim Cabins available with a fireplace.   Two Cabin  Suites are available at Bright Angel , the Buckey O’Neil  and Red Horse Cabin.

Bright Angel is a wonderful place to call home during your Grand Canyon South Rim visit.  Plan early to get the room type you prefer.  Call our reservations dept. today at 866-315-2980 or find more information online at http://www.usparklodging.com/grandcanyon/index.php.

El Tovar Hotel: Live The History of Grand Canyon National Park

You might say that the Grand Canyon first became a tourist destination during the turn of the twentieth century. This was when the Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad completed building a line of railroad track that connected Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyons edge. Prior to the construction of this transportation advancement, the only possibility for visiting the park was by way of stagecoach or wagon which could take weeks of traveling across the vast desert countryside. As a result, the Grand Canyon had gathered limited visitors preceding 1901. The railroad had changed everything, and now with the new ease of travel, the Grand Canyon had become a major tourist attraction! Tourism boomed.

A few years later the railroad brought president Teodore Roosevelt to the canyons edge. Mr Roosevelt was so greatly inspired by the majesty and beauty of the vast canyon that he swiftly began working to ensure that the area be protected exactly as it was. As tourism began to boom, the Sante Fe railroad quickly realized that there was a great need for quality lodging. The Sante Fe railroad joined forces with the Fred Harvey Company, who owned and operated a chain of hotels linked to the railroad.  Construction began on the El Tovar Hotel and the Grand Canyon further established itself as one of Americas premier tourist destinations.

The El Tovar’s Planning & Construction

Charles Whittlesey, who was among Sante Fe’s more dominant design engineers in the early 1900′s, was appointed to design and oversee manufacturing of the El Tovar.  The El Tovar was given it’s name in recognition of Pedro de Tovar, an early explorer within the region who had been the first to report word of a large waterway in the area which in time resulted in the finding of the canyon. This continued the tradition of employing Spanish terms for Harvey Hotels.

The El Tovar started receiving guests in 1905 with outstanding feedback, and a price tag of $250,000 to build. This was an exceptional sum of money in those days. At first the El Tovar was designed to be a significantly smaller hotel, however the Sante Fe Company quickly found that the interest in tourist accommodations near the canyon was growing even more quickly than they had originally suspected, and so Whittlesey was asked to more than double the accommodations to one-hundred rooms. With the completion of the elegant El Tovar Hotel, the Grand Canyon had formally taken it’s place as an upscale tourist destination, and the railway managed to start luring some far more wealthy guests. Sadly, several of the early pioneer proprietors of the area were driven out of business because they could not compete with the power and bank account of the railway company. In those days, El Tovar was largely regarded as the most luxurious hotel west of the Mississippi River.

El Tovar’s Unique Luxury & Design

The El Tovar boasts a sensational location close to the edge of the Grand Canyon’s rim which serves up some superior views for El Tovar guests. The El Tovar gets it’s unique theme from numerous influences including Switzerland architecture, Scandinavian designs, and early American rustic influences. The majority of the buildings which have been constructed near the Grand Canyon’s rim were planned out and built to blend in as seemlessly as possible with their natural landscape, it was quite a different story with the El Tovar however. It was designed to be a welcoming destination of elegance, comfort and luxury for fatigued travelers of the Sante Fe Railway. When the El Tovar Hotel was built in the early 1900′s it utilized many unique architectural designs that really set it apart from other hotels of it’s time. Things like wrap-around porches and vaulted ceilings added to the elegance and luxury of the hotel. El Tovar was developed sparing none of the era’s most modern comforts. There was electric lighting powered by a coal-fired generator. Indoor plumbing carrying hot and cold running water, as well as steam heat which was woven through the walls. None of the rooms had a private bath in the early days.

Exquisite Dining

El Tovar very quickly became recognized for it’s exquisite dining and succulent cuisine, as a result, it was a  struggle to keep the remote hotel supplied with fresh produce to satisfy the guests requirements. There were not refrigerated train cars back then, so hauling perishables through the hot desert countryside was not possible. Instead, the El Tovar Hotel established it’s own farm with a herd of Jersey Cows and poultry, which kept hotel guests furnished with a reliable supply of fresh milk, cream, eggs and butter. El Tovar also had it’s own bakery and butcher shop that provided fresh cuts of meat and fresh homemade bread and pastries.

The El Tovar Hotel predates the establishment of the Grand Canyon as a National Park, and in fact, it was the railroad and the El Tovar Hotel which played a vital role in helping the area become a national park. The area officially became a national park in the year 1916. The El Tovar Hotel has played host to presidents and tourists alike and is the oldest remaining hotel located at the Grand Canyon. To this day it is still a luxurious travel destination.

How to Make The Most of Your Grand Canyon South Rim Vacation (Part 2)

Strolling Through History: Ranger Walks and Talks

The National Park Service provides interpretative ranger programs at various points of interest on the Grand Canyon South Rim. Topics range from fossils, archaeology, geology, astronomy, flora and fauna of the region, Native American History, to star talks, and more.  Specific details of the talks may vary according to the ranger and their area of expertise, however you can be guaranteed 45 minutes with plenty of fun facts, interesting stories, and truly spectacular views.

Be sure to check out what programs are on the park’s calendar. If you’ve been to the park before, or are interested in a particular subject, such as stargazing, art history, rock-hounding, or bird watching, this is a great place to find hidden gems. The upcoming “2012 Grand Canyon Star Party”, which will be held on both South and North Rims from June 16-23, 2012, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

During this 8-day period, free, nightly astronomy programs and telescope viewings on the South Rim will be provided by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. Visitors will have the chance to view the planet Saturn along with a wide assortment of star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.

Saddle Up: Ride a Mule to Phantom Ranch

Experience two staples of Grand Canyon history all at once by descending into the canyon by mule  AND staying overnight at Phantom Ranch. Mules have been taking visitors to Phantom Ranch’s tree-shaded, creek-side oasis since its construction in 1922.
A mule trip is appropriate for the adventurous soul who is reasonably fit, isn’t afraid of heights or large animals, and wants to take in the beauty of the canyon step-by-step. Day rides stop mid-way at Indian Garden and turn around, whereas longer rides stay at Phantom Ranch, in rustic bunkhouses and cabins next to the creek. During the summer, when temperatures hit 100, you’ll be happy to rest your legs and take a dip!

Book early to secure your trail riding adventure because the Grand Canyon Mule Rides typically fill up 13 months in advance.

Ride the Rails: Travel to the Grand Canyon National Park from Williams via Grand Canyon Railway

Take a vintage steam train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway which runs between Williams, Arizona, and the South Rim. This popular park attraction is ready to take you back in history of the Wild West, complete with a Wild West shootout featuring the Cataract Creek Gang in an outdoor theater. Take your journey in style, enjoying live music and refreshments as you will rumble and roll through valleys adorned in wild flowers, dense Ponderosa Pine forests, high desert plains and small canyons. If you’re looking for something truly out of the ordinary, the Grand Canyon Railway is just the ticket!

 

How To Make The Most of Your Grand Canyon South Rim Vacation (Part 1)

Get an insiders look into how to make the most from your vacation to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in this two-part series on activities and adventures available at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

grand canyon helitoursGrand Canyon South Rim Vacation (Part 1)

Absorb The Aura: Stay Or Dine At The Historic El Tovar Lodge

No trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim would be complete without visiting the historic El Tovar Lodge. The lodge is constructed of native stone and Oregon pine, reminiscent of a hunting lodge and is situated within easy walking distance to the rim of the canyon. The lodge and its majestic dining room is built perpendicular to the rim, so a few tables do offer canyon views. To truly experience the Grand Canyon’s unique aura, why not stay overnight or enjoy drinks and appetizers on El Tovar veranda?

Tingle Your Senses: Fly Over The Grand Canyon By Helicopter

Stunning aerial views of the Grand Canyon are the prize when taking in the craggy depths and immense peaks of the park by helicopter. A helicopter tour is the best way to see a good deal of the canyon, in all its breathtaking, spine-tingling wonder. Flights take off from the airport in Tusayan, Arizona where a trip to the canyon’s edge takes a mere 8 minutes and most flights last 45 minutes or more. Outfitters operate out of the Tusayan Airport and state of the art helicopters come equipped with vista view windows which allow passengers to see the Canyon in a way never dreamed possible before.

Deluxe Combo Pack: Airline + Helicopter + Boat Tour

If you’re looking for a lot of bang for your buck, more elaborate combinations of tours also exist, such as the deluxe airplane tours that fly from Las Vegas to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. These tours  fly from Las Vegas to the Skywalk at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, then descend into the canyon by helicopter, ending with a relaxing cruise along the Colorado River aboard a pontoon boat.

Get Involved: Become a Junior Ranger

Grand Canyon National Park’s Junior Ranger program is an easy and wonderful (and free!) way to get kids involved in your vacation. By completing a list of activities in the Junior Ranger Activity Book, kids 4 to 14 can receive a variety of official Junior Ranger badges and certificates with a day or two. The Ranger Program is very do-able; it’s designed to be completed within a realistic timeframe, flowing with your vacation. Upon completion, a ranger will award your child with an official badge and certificate. For more information, check at canyon View Information Plaza, Tusayan Museum, and Yavapai Observation Station.

You can learn more about Grand Canyon National Park by visiting our Grand Canyon National Park information page or book your Grand Canyon National Park lodging and activity reservations by visiting http://www.usparklodging.com/grandcanyonnationalparklodging.php

Be sure to save our blog to your favorites and check back in a couple of days for the exciting conclusion of our adventure guide to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim!

Click Here for “Part 2″ of this article…

Winter in Yellowstone: Ranger Talks

Yellowstone National Park is so vast and diverse that it would take many visits to the park in order to really see it all. This statement is not meant to discourage visitors to the park. On the contrary, this statement should inspire visitors to enjoy tours with the people who know Yellowstone National Park better than anyone else, Park Rangers. There are several exciting Ranger-led talks and programs in a handful of areas of Yellowstone National Park this winter.

Everyone who comes to Yellowstone National Park wants to see Old Faithful, and for good reason. There are plenty of self-guided pathways that have educational signs, but the Old Faithful area also offer ranger-guided tours of this hot spot in Yellowstone National Park. Just show up at the Old Faithful benches 20 minutes prior to the estimated eruption for a 15-20 minute talk providing inside information on this enigma. Also in the Old Faithful Snow Lodge area, at the Visitor Education Center, Park Rangers give free 45 minute slide show presentation that also highlights some of the little known facts and details about Yellowstone National Park.

West Yellowstoneis another popular spot for visitors to Yellowstone. Each Saturday, Park Rangers host a two-mile showshoe trek along the Riverside Trail inside the park. Just bring your snowshoes, water and a snack and meet the Park Ranger at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center in West Yellowstone. All levels are welcome as the snow-shoe walk is not considered strenuous. On Sunday afternoons at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, join a Park Ranger for a free 45 minute slide-show presentation similar to the above mentioned in the Old Faithful Area. The presentation is free but there is a fee to enter the rest of the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

Snow-shoe Walk photo by glaciernps on Flickr

The Mammoth Hot Springs area is another fun region to visit in the wintertime. Showshoeing with a Park Ranger might be the highlight of your vacation. Check out the beauty of winter in Yellowstone with a showshoe adventure on Tuesadys and Thursdays. This walk takes about two hours and is considered monderately strenuous. Snowshoe rentals are available at the Bear Den Ski Shop near the Mammoth Hotel or bring your own. Keep in mind that this snowshoe trek will turn into a guided walk without any snow, so check with a ranger before you rent your snowshoes. A one hour evening program is offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 in the Mammoth Hotel Map Room. There is a special ranger talk about wolves on Monday and Wednesdays is featured at the Albright Visitor Center Theater. It lasts an hour and a half and includes both a 20 minute talk and a video.

Remember, winter in Yellowstone is inherently cold, but the weather can also change in a flash. Dress in layers and bring water and a snack. Taking a walk or listening to a presentation by a Park Ranger is one of the best ways to get acquainted with Yellowstone National Park. After listening to any of these talks, you will have a whole lot more to think about as you explore the park on your own. Winter in Yellowstone National Park is an exciting time of year. US Park Lodging provides hotel reservations for Yellowstone National Park both inside and outside the park. Call up these professionals today to book your stay in Yellowstone.

Crater Lake Winter: Cross Country Skiing Adventure

Some may not know that Crater Lake National Park is a celebrated winter destination. Crater Lake winter is not only gorgeous, but bustling with outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the snow covered terrain. The Diamond Lake Lodge is open all year and provides a warm place to spend your downtime between wintery adventures. The Diamond Lake Lodge is five miles north of Crater Lake on another pristine lake called Diamond Lake. This lodge is a full-blown resort offering a long list of winter activities for guests of all ages.

Crater Lake winter guests to The Diamond Lake Lodge spend their time snowmobiling, sledding/tubing, ice-skating and cross country skiing. Guided and unguided snowmobiling tours are also available. 60 miles north are downhill skiing resorts for skiers and snowboarders. The Diamond Lake Lodge has an almost 90 year long history of providing shelter from the storm. Take this fun story from the past as an example.

In 1948, a young man named Jack Meissner, 28 years old and already a war veteran, decided to set out on a 300-mile solo adventure on cross-country skis. He announced his lofty and dangerous plan to the world to which he received plenty of criticism for his dangerous ambition. The CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and the Willamette Ski Patrol studied the planned route with Meissner before the grand departure. The CAP planned to make a supply drop for Meissner at a Forest Service shelter along the way. A Eugene outdoors group called The Obsidians offered the use of trained carrier pigeons, Homer and Cynthia, to communicate his condition from the isolated trail. Meissner was a woodsman, trapper, back country guide and serviceman. He was determined and prepared.

Crater Lake Winter

Crater Lake Winter photo by ex_magician on Flickr

Jack Meissner set out from Mt. Hood’s Government Camp on Friday the 13th of February, 1948 aboard his cross-country skis. Meissner’s finish line was Crater Lake National Park. His pack weighed in at about 55 lbs. It contained everything he would need along the way, aside from the supplies that would be dropped for him later. Meissner planned to travel 10 miles a day for 300 miles of fresh tracks at elevations ranging from 4,000-10,000 feet. And, for the most part, that is just what he did.

1948 went on the books as one of the harshest and coldest winters with the most snowfall in many years. Meissner traded work at various stops along the way in exchange for room and board where it was available, which was seldom. The last half of his route was quite secluded. On one stormy day, he fell into a deep and snowy ravine and had to rescue himself by making ledges out of his skis where he climbed one step at a time out of the trouble.

Those waiting for Jack’s return had no way of knowing if he had made it to the supply drop, because the pigeons, Homer and Cynthia had not returned to Eugene. The normal travel time from the pigeon drop-zone was three hours as the crow flies, or pigeons in this case. The storms and blizzards were a life threatening obstacle for the feathered pair as well as for Meissner. The Obsidians knew that Homer was slower and held Cynthia back. The pigeons were feared dead as they were many days late. Then, to their surprise, Cynthia returned with a note on her leg indicating that Meissner had gotten at least as far as the pigeon drop-zone. Homer, was proclaimed lost until he also made it home four days after Cynthia. Still, with the harsh weather conditions and heavy snowfall, Meissner’s current condition was unknowable.

Crater Lake Winter

Crater Lake Winter photo by Tracy Vierra on Flickr

As it turned out, he successfully found the dropped supplies from the CAP and he also managed to locate the pigeons to attach the note to Cynthia’s leg. He skied into the Diamond Lake Lodge where he warmed up by the fire and traded his room and dinner for shoveling snow. In eight hours, it snowed as many as 10 inches in the Crater Lake area causing a power outage to most of Klamath County. He had his shoveling work cut out for him. In the morning, he set out for Crater Lake National Park where his journey would come to a relieved and triumphant close one week later.

The end of this adventure story finds Jack Meissner a celebrated outdoorsman who was the first and last person to attempt such a feat. Crater Lake National Park was the 25th and final campsite of Jack Meissner’s 300-mile journey on cross country skis from Mt. Hood. He accomplished this in 33 total skiing days with 20 days scattered in-between where he did work trades and waited out storms for a total of 53 days from start to finish.

To this day, The Diamond Lake Lodge provides comfort for many Crater Lake winter guests. Spend the holidays at The Diamond Lake Lodge for a full resort experience. Give the professionals at US Park Lodging a call, toll free, to secure your Crater Lake winter reservations at the Diamond Lake Lodge.