Category Archives: National Parks

5 Montana National Parks Tours

The phenomenal Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park. There are a variety of ways to experience one of America’s most popular parks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here are a 5 exciting ways to explore Montana and its most popular National Parks. 

Explore Yellowstone and Glacier by RV: Discover the natural beauty of Yellowstone, Glacier, and more with the comfort and convenience of a new Winnebago RV, you’ll have the freedom to travel at your own pace and experience the great outdoors like never before. Based in Bozeman, MT, Blacksford’s brand new, luxury RVs and camper vans are low-mileage and impeccably maintained, ensuring a safe and worry-free trip. They offer flexible pick-up and drop-off times, all the amenities you’ll need for a fantastic vacation, and support to ensure a seamless rental experience. 

Saddle and Paddle Yellowstone: Flying Pig Adventures’ 3-night Yellowstone tour gives guests the opportunity to experience the park like never before. The thrill of witnessing one of nature’s most iconic environments, tackling rough terrain on horseback, and battling Class III rapids cannot be found anywhere else. From fly fishing, to horseback rides, to Yellowstone whitewater rafting, guests will be talking about their unique experiences for years to come. 

Cycle Glacier National Park: The Big Sky meets six days of big smiles on Escape Adventures’ epic Glacier National Park/Going-to-the-Sun Road bike trip. Based in Montana’s 1,583-square-mile Glacier National Park, with its 375 historic properties plus six historic landmarks, riders will cycle into some of North America’s most breathtaking landscapes, including Going-to-the-Sun Road. At each stop, each slow pass, guests will learn a little more about the “Crown of the Continent” ecosystem. 

Big Sky Luxury Adventure: In Big Sky, Montana, The Wilson Hotel serves as a base camp for adventure whether it’s winter or summer. Guests can ski and snowboard Big Sky Resort’s expansive 5,850 acres of terrain in winter, and hike nearby shaded forests and wildflower-filled meadows, raft or fly fish the clear waters of the Gallatin River, and experience the adrenaline rush of lift-served mountain biking in summer. At the end of the day, The Wilson offers spacious, sophisticated accommodations steps from on-site amenities and Big Sky Town Center. 

Glamping Cowboy Retreat:  Ranchlands is excited to formally open the 80,000-acre Paintrock Canyon Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. Guests will immerse themselves in ranch life, explore the surrounding areas on horseback, fly fish, hike, and experience the natural world in this unique landscape. Accommodations are designed for guests to be as close to nature as possible, but with all the comforts of home. Large, safari-style tents are stylishly furnished with full-sized beds, bedside tables, dressers, and chairs. Meals are prepared by a private chef and incorporate Ranchlands beef, local produce, and dairy whenever possible. The ranch makes a great base camp for a Yellowstone National Park adventure.

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Escape Adventures Introduces Guided Bikepacking Tour of North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey Trail

Escape Adventures is offering a 5-day camping and mountain biking tour of the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail System (MDH) in North Dakota, showcasing some of America’s most breathtaking terrain.

(Las Vegas, NV) — Escape Adventures is offering a 5-day camping and mountain biking tour of the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail System (MDH) in North Dakota, showcasing some of America’s most breathtaking terrain. Majestic plateaus, jagged peaks and valleys, large expanses of rolling prairie, and rivers intertwine to offer the adventurous outdoors enthusiast a taste of pure, unadulterated badlands.

Located adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the MDH is one of the lengthiest stretches of continuous trail in America. Hailed as an IMBA epic, the MDH unfolds on 95% singletrack. The guided tour starts at $1,499 per person double. For more information, visit https://escapeadventures.com/tour/maah-daah-hey-singletrack-mountain-bike-tour/.

“From the northern unit to the ultra-charming, cowboy-pohttps://escapeadventures.com/tour/maah-daah-hey-singletrack-mountain-bike-tour/et town of Medora, we spend five days riding what’s commonly called the most stunning stretch of The Northern Plains,” said Escape Adventures Director, Jared Fisher.

From rolling prairie to endless red-baked buttes, the MDH crisscrosses the least commercial unit in the National Park Service. Accordingly, no national park outside Alaska is better suited for pure, backcountry trekking and wildlife encounters. A day on the trail might bring riders face-to-face with bison, elk, bighorn sheep, wild horses, pronghorn antelope, coyote, and wild turkey. 
 
The MDH is comprised of nine trail units of varying size and difficulty. From north to south, they are the Wolf (8.8 miles), Long X (5.8 miles), Summit (3.8 miles), Overlook (0.3 miles), Maah Daah Hey (144 miles), Bennett (3.2 miles), Cottonwood (6.9 miles), Ice Cave (1.5 miles) and, Buffalo Gap (18.9 miles).   

Full Itinerary:


Day 1-2: Meet in Medora. Shuttle to trail just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. An introductory ride takes guests on a great sampling of the Badlands. Ride Bennett Trail through high prairie grasses and wooded draws. Spend the evening under a bright blanket of stars, taking in the coyote calls that punctuate the night sky.
Day 3-4: Ride Devil’s Pass. Spectacular views across the Little Missouri River Valley eventually give way to the river itself. Camp near Teddy’s own Elkhorn Ranch. Continue on to Buffalo Gap and Wannagan Creek where riders enjoy quick descents on buff singletrack mixed with petrified Cypress trees. Camp near Wannagan Creek.
Day 5: Ride Buffalo Gap along the outskirts of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Finish in Medora.

All internal land expenses and services are covered in the cost of the tour. All transportation, food preparation, meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, group supplies and community gear are included. Backcountry permits, licenses, park fees, reservations, and accommodations are also included, along with at least two professionally trained trip leaders, a mobile first aid and mechanic station, spare bikes, and support vehicles.

Since 1992, Escape Adventures has been blessed to shape and lead adventure travel vacations through some of the most awe-inspiring natural destinations in the world. Building on over 100 destinations, Escape Adventures caters to the full spectrum of active travelers, respective to fitness level and activity type, from road cyclist to mountain biker to electric biker, hiker, and multi-sport enthusiast, and from first timer to friends and family groups of all ability levels. https://escapeadventures.com/

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6 Historic Places Where You Can Vacation Like a President This President’s Day

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. Among the illustrious guests: U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge; First Lady Laura Bush stayed in 2002. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

In the spirit of honoring past leaders and indulging in a touch of luxury, what better way to celebrate President’s Day than by immersing oneself in the historic footsteps of former U.S. presidents? From the majestic views of the Grand Canyon to the quaint charm of the Sheridan Inn in Wyoming, and from the opulent Broadmoor in Colorado to the iconic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, there’s a wealth of presidential vacation spots waiting to be explored. Imagine basking in the same ambiance that once hosted the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Bill Clinton. 

Uncover fascinating tales of presidential visits, cultural significance, and the timeless allure of these remarkable retreats. Join us on a journey through history and luxury, as you vacation like a president this President’s Day.

El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

Widely considered the crown jewel of the Historic National Park Lodges, El Tovar is located directly on the Grand Canyon’s Rim and first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  The Chicago architect envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. This was done to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time considered European culture the epitome of refinement. The hotel was built from local limestone and Oregon pine. It cost $250,000 to build, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. 

In 1987 the Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark. In the past, the hotel has hosted such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and countless others. 

U.S. Presidents who have stayed at El Tovar include Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton.

The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming

Constructed in 1892 as part of a railway extension program, the Sheridan Inn was designed by Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball. Drawing inspiration from Scottish hotels, the architect included the iconic wraparound porch and a bountiful number of dormered windows in his design. In a short six months, the Inn was constructed and upon completion was the first building in the area furnished with electrical power and bathtubs, giving adventurous travelers a taste of Eastern luxury in the West and was considered the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco.

Buffalo Bill Cody frequented the Sheridan Inn as part owner and soon turned the Sheridan Inn into the headquarters for his Wild West Show, from which he auditioned new members from the iconic front porch of the Inn. Local Sheridan cowboys and cowgirls were recruited, including George Gardner and Tode Bard, to join the show and travel to Europe with Buffalo Bill.

With a massive ballroom and a dining room table large enough to seat 165 people, the Sheridan Inn was the social hub for the area, hosting grand dances and dinners. The 64 hotel rooms hosted new residents of Sheridan who stayed at the Inn while their houses were being built and ranchers would spend their weekends at the Inn. Early prices at the Sheridan Inn were one dollar per night and fifty cents for lunch or dinner. Over the years, The Sheridan Inn drew notable guests from far and wide, such as Ernest Hemingway, President Hoover, Will Rogers, and Bob Hope.

Today guests can choose from one of the Inn’s 22 rooms, which have been uniquely designed and named after important figures in Buffalo Bill’s life. Reserving a room involves looking over a Room Menu and selecting from such options as the “Sitting Bull Room” or “Annie Oakley Room”. Each suite presents the times and individual histories of the person in the room’s overall finish and furnishings, artifacts, and exhibits.

THE BROADMOOR, Colorado Springs, CO

The Broadmoor has hosted many (actually, most) U.S. presidents in its 106-year history, including Dwight Eisenhower, who would visit the resort regularly to play golf and learn from pro-Ed Dudley. Fun fact: George W. Bush gave up drinking after a big 40th birthday celebration at the resort’s The Golden Bee gastropub. From the Obamas to the Roosevelts, The Broadmoor has had its share of presidential stays in this uniquely Western resort, which spans 5,000 acres and is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains.

One can roam the hallway between Broadmoor West and the West Tower to see The Broadmoor’s photo gallery. The gallery includes framed portraits of distinguished guests (including presidents) who have stayed at the resort over the decades, from Prince Harry to Bob Hope. 

The Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley, California 

The Oasis at Death Valley was originally called Furnace Creek and is a true American oasis where 80,000 gallons of ancient water rise to the surface every day.  The Native Americans, prospectors, settlers, and 49ers all knew about the water there and the oasis. Eventually, the land was purchased by the Pacific Borax Company which mined and hauled borax out of the valley with the famed Borax 20 Mule Teams of the 1880s.  The mules and miners were based at Furnace Creek.

The resort was originally built by the Pacific Borax Company in the late 1920s and would become the getaway winter spot for Hollywood celebrities such as Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan, and where George Lucas filmed scenes from the original Star Wars movies because of the stunning natural beauty in daylight. 

Over the years in addition to the Inn, the Ranch was expanded, and amenities and facilities were added for the enjoyment of travelers and vacationers including casual lodging, restaurants, a general store, a golf course, tennis courts, a gas station, official U.S Post Office (Zip Code 92328), RV parking and of course, a saloon.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, WY

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. The hotel itself was originally constructed upon the grounds of the former Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, which had collapsed during the 1890s. Its initial owner had been Jay Cooke, a prominent railroad tycoon who had long entertained the idea of preserving the area that now constitutes Yellowstone National Park. Cooke’s team at the Northern Pacific Railroad subsequently debuted the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel in 1883 and was thus obligated to construct a replacement when the former was destroyed a decade later. 

Opening in 1904, the newly created “Old Faithful Inn” immediately became one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. The hotel was soon hosting many influential people over the following decades, including U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. Lastly, First Lady Laura Bush stayed at this iconic inn in 2002. 

Cody and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

Many presidents have been spotted in the state’s northwestern region known as Cody Yellowstone, which includes the town of Cody, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park. To start, Chester A. Arthur visited Yellowstone National Park in 1883 with a large entourage and was intent on having an authentic Western experience. Arthur kept in touch with the outside world and engaged in presidential business with one daily mail courier on horseback who delivered and received Arthur’s messages.

President Calvin Coolidge visited Cody on July 4, 1927, for the opening of the Buffalo Bill Museum, the first of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Theodore Roosevelt was a big fan of the state, and he made several trips during his presidential tenure and returned to Wyoming to vacation after he left Washington. In 1903, during his final visit to the park for a two-week vacation, he visited the Norris Geyser Basin where he spent two nights at the Norris Hotel. During that trip, he laid the cornerstone for the park’s Roosevelt Arch. Although the arch is in the state of Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone, Wyoming celebrates the grand structure too, as most of the park is in Wyoming.

Years later, Theodore’s fifth cousin Franklin took office, and he also left his mark on Yellowstone Country. When he visited the park, he avoided the park hotels, many with multiple floors and no elevators, and instead was a guest of the lodge manager in his single-floor park home, which could better accommodate his wheelchair while at the same time keeping it from public view.

Some other notable names include President George H.W. Bush, President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and his family, First Lady Melania Trump, and President Jimmy Carter dined at the employee pub at the park’s Lake Lodge where he signed the wall of the pub, still visible to guests today. Lastly, President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died, and the staff in the park named a geyser after him.

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Celebrate Canyonlands NP 60th Anniversary with Moab Adventure Center

For those who can only spare a few hours on the river, Colorado River Jet Boat Fun Run for $139 per person is a three-hour, 64-mile jet boat excursion with canopy-covered seating into spectacular river scenery bordering Canyonlands National Park.

MOAB, UT– In 1964, 257,640 acres of high desert in Utah were formally designated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as Canyonlands National Park. Some 10,000 years ago Native Americans lingered here long enough to signal their presence through drawings (petroglyphs) on rock walls. Only 2,000 years ago hunter-gatherer tribes created granaries to store their harvests. Many granaries still survive. Early European settlers gazed farther west, leaving this geologically challenging world as the hideout for a handful of outlaws.
 
Today, with its 60th anniversary upon us, Canyonlands National Park remains the least visited among Utah’s “Big 5” national parks despite offering some of the best rafting, hiking, jeep tours, mountain biking and canyoneering in the country. In 2024, Moab Adventure Center is making it easier than ever to access some or all of the vast park.
 
One of the most overlooked (and most breathtaking) districts of Canyonlands National Park is the River District. Carving its way through this unmatched landscape is the mighty Colorado River. Kam Wixom, Marketing Director for Moab Adventure Center, reports “a remarkable surge in popularity” with their 96-mile, 2-day Cataract Canyon Express raft trip (per person rate $955) or Cataract Canyon 4-Day Expedition (per person rate $1935) through class III-IV rapids in the heart of Canyonlands National Park.  Rates include transfers, hiking, camping, meals and whitewater rafting (plus scenic flight on 4-day trip).
 
For those who can only spare a few hours on the river, Colorado River Jet Boat Fun Run for $139 per person is a three-hour, 64-mile jet boat excursion with canopy-covered seating into spectacular river scenery bordering Canyonlands National Park. Snacks and drinks are served along with commentary by the guide/pilot. Keep an eye out for a petrified forest, fossil beds, spectacular rock cliffs, Indian ruins, petroglyphs and arches.  See: https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/jet-boat-colorado-river
 
To grasp the grandeur and enormity of all of Canyonlands, Moab Adventure Center can arrange a one-hour Canyonlands National Park Airplane Tour. The flights are year-round and scheduled to depart daily at 9 a.m. All guests have window views and headsets to enjoy the commentary of a professional pilot on a 125-mile flyover that includes regions inaccessible to hikers. The per-person rate is $249 ($187 ages 12-3). An 80-minute Arches and Canyonlands Airplane Tour also departs year-round daily. The per person rate is $329 ($247 ages 12-3). See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-air-tours for details.
 
Moab Adventure Center also maps out 4×4 Jeep Rentals for up to five passengers (including driver) available for one-day or multi-day use. The vehicles are brand-new modified Jeep Rubicons, considered the best and most capable jeep to explore the trails. Jeep Rubicons feature an automatic transmission, a 3-inch lift kit, oversized tires, seat belts for 5, and free satellite radio.  A per-vehicle daily rate of $330 includes a book of trail maps, a cooler of water and ice, and 150 free miles daily. GPS signal monitors in every Jeep means you are never really lost in the backcountry surrounding Moab. Complimentary airport and in-town shuttles are included. See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-jeep-rentals-rubicon
 
This National Park Service site https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm is a starting point for a pre-visit discovery of Canyonlands. It even includes time management touring tips for those with one hour or several days to spend in one or more of NPS’ designated regions – called sections – of Canyonlands. Please see https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/itineraries.htm
 
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532. For information and reservations please visit https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/ or call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.

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Explore the Cosmos at Death Valley Dark Sky Festival, March 1-3

Join scientists and park rangers to learn about the cosmos and how Death Valley National Park has been used as an analog for the exploration of distant worlds during the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival March 1-3, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Xanterra Travel Collection) 

There’s no better place to explore the wonders of space than from one of the darkest locations in the United States. Join scientists and park rangers to learn about the cosmos and how Death Valley National Park has been used as an analog for the exploration of distant worlds during the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival March 1-3, 2024.  
 
Death Valley National Park is one of only eight (8) designated “gold tier” International Dark Sky Parks in the country where stargazers can see the Milky Way with the naked eye (something that’s not possible from most people’s homes due to light pollution). The National Park Service, alongside the Oasis at Death Valley, has taken measures to greatly minimize light pollution in the area so no special telescopes are needed (though they are recommended for an otherworldly experience).
 
Accommodations and restaurants are extremely limited in the park. Not only does The Oasis at Death Valley offer two properties with modern luxury and family-friendly accommodations, but it’s also ideally positioned with clear nights the norm, a lack of settled land, and the exterior lights of the resort dim by design. Ideal for stargazing, yes, but also for travelers in search of astronomical sights – constellations, planets, deep-sky objects, celestial events like lunar eclipses and meteor showers, and even actual galaxies like the increasingly hard-to-spot Milky Way.
 
The Death Valley Dark Sky Festival is a collaboration between Death Valley National Park, non-profit Death Valley Natural History AssociationNASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center, SETI Institute and California Institute of Technology. All Death Valley Dark Sky Festival programs are free and open to the public. Some of the programs are specifically targeted for families with children. For a full list of programs and lodging options visit the park’s website at nps.gov/deva.
 
Located 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas and 295 miles northeast of Los Angeles, The Oasis at Death Valley is distant enough from the major cities in the Southwest to provide unobstructed views of the night’s sky, yet close enough for city dwellers to escape for the weekend. Guests can reserve a private stargazing party to create the ultimate night sky experience. In addition, Furnace Creek Stables on property offers a moonlight tour which is a unique way to stargaze.

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Xanterra Travel Collection: Lodging Still Available at National Parks in 2024!

The Oasis at Death Valley in Death Valley, California. For the first time in ages, there are rooms, cabins and even campgrounds available in the spring, summer and even into the fall of 2024 in our fabled national parks, Xanterra Travel Collection, which operates them, reported. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
 

For the first time in ages, there are rooms, cabins and even campgrounds available in the spring, summer and even into the fall of this year in our fabled national parks, Xanterra Travel Collection, which operates them, reported.  The result, if you ever wanted to visit any of these national parks, 2024 looks like the time to take advantage of this travel opportunity If you book sooner than later.  Usually, lodges are booked more than a year in advance.

Xanterra Travel Collection® operates the lodges, hotels, concessions–and even a railway in some of America’s most prized national parks including Grand Canyon South Rim, Yellowstone, Zion, Glacier, and Death Valley. It also owns and operates the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel in Williams, Arizona, The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Arizona, The Oasis at Death Valley in Death Valley, California, and Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls, Montana.

For reservations, packages, value-added programs, and availability, visit www.xanterra.com for more information.

Known for its “Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint®,” Xanterra Travel Collection® provides A World of Unforgettable Experiences® through its operations in national parks, including lodges, restaurants, tours, and activities, as well as through its ownership of resorts, a cruise line, a railway, and tour companies. Xanterra has operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain National Parks, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Xanterra Travel Collection® also owns and operates the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel in Williams, Ariz., The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., The Oasis at Death Valley in Death Valley Calif., Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls, Mont., Windstar Cruises, Holiday Vacations, VBT Bicycling Vacations, and Country Walkers. Xanterra is also affiliated with two Forbes Five-Star Resorts, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO and Sea Island on the coast of Georgia.

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Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone Reopens

The spectacular Grand Prismatic at Yellowstone National Park. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins are now open year-round © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Wyoming/Montana/Idaho – Less than one year after historic monumental rains and flooding hit Yellowstone National Park, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins have opened their doors to guests once again. The National Park Service announced that repairs to the Mammoth wastewater treatment plant had been successfully completed allowing the property to reopen on July 1. With this event, all the lodges, hotels and Xanterra-run campgrounds in the park are now open and ready to serve guests. In fact, there are still in-park rooms and campsites available at many locations this summer, particularly later in the season, a rather rare occurrence.

The Mammoth Hotel & Cabins are located in the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District that includes Fort Yellowstone, where 35 structures remain from the 1890s and early 1900s when the US Army administered the park. Significant conservation policies were developed here that led to the origin of the National Park Service. The hotel recently underwent major renovations of the public spaces and guest rooms. The hotel as it stands today was built in 1936, while retaining a wing of guest rooms originally built in 1911, and features its signature Map Room containing a large wooden map of the United States constructed of 15 different kinds of wood from nine countries. Guests enjoy a variety of in-park accommodations as well as the chance of spotting elk grazing outside the hotel.

Unknown to many, Yellowstone is open in the winter and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel—named after nearby springs—offers a warm welcome to winter visitors as well. During this special season, daily guided tours depart from Mammoth Hotel to popular in-park hot spots like Lamar Valley, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon and Old Faithful. The Bear Den ski shop, located in the gift shop, offers equipment, lessons, tips, and tours for cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts.

To search and book reservations visit www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com. Guests should check the National Park Service website for the latest on trip planning, weather, road conditions and construction. The NPS app is also available for download.

See:

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK IN TWO DAYS: DAY 1: ‘RANDOM BOILING EARTH’

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK IN TWO DAYS: MOTHER NATURE GETS SURREAL

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May The Fourth Be With You: Death Valley Doubles for a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In celebration of the epic tale and Hollywood franchise, “Star Wars,” The Oasis at Death Valley hyper-spaced an exclusive map for guests leading them to the filming locations that are easily accessible via car © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfaranadnear.com

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – May The Fourth – (April 2023, on Earth) –Lights, Camera, Vacation! While set-jetting may be one of the biggest trends this year, movie fans have been vacationing at The Oasis at Death Valley for decades on a quest to visit location sites “a galaxy far, far, away” from the 1977 movie Star Wars.  These visits start inevitable tales of when the movie’s director came to this true American Oasis in 3.4 million square miles of desert, oasis and mountain national park to film and transport people to another galaxy. 

In celebration of the epic tale and Hollywood franchise, “Star Wars,” The Oasis at Death Valley hyper-spaced an exclusive map for guests leading them to the filming locations that are easily accessible via car.  
 
Past generations of employees have shared stories with newer generations and certainly know where the movie locations are. These include the breathtakingly and picturesque locations throughout Death Valley National Park including Dante’s View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Desolations Canyon, Artist’s Drive and Golden Canyon – all just a quick 20-to-40-minute drive from the Resort – the only resort in Death Valley National Park.
 
Just two hours from Las Vegas through the desert and more than four hours from Los Angeles, the nearest town or pretty much anything is at least an hour’s drive at a high-speed limit and no traffic lights.
 
And if you want to explore the universe, this is the place – it’s one of the only gold-tier designated International Dark Sky Parks in the United States where stargazers can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.
 
While Death Valley may seem like another universe to vacationers, those in the know have also found an “oasis-like planet” that is the luxurious AAA Four-Diamond The Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly The Ranch at Death Valley both part of the recent $150 million renaissance at the Oasis at Death Valley. Death Valley is usually sunny (there is almost no rain). There are few bugs. It’s also beautiful and the Oasis boasts massive swimming pools, gardens, golf, tennis, horseback riding, numerous restaurants, a date palm grove, a general store, post office and ample lush lawns to run and play or do just nothing but take in the stunning scenery during the day and stars at night. There is a resort, a hotel, private casitas, and 80 new cottages.
 
For more information and reservations, visit oasisatdeathvalley.com.

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Forgot to Get Reservations for Arches? Take a Tour With Moab Adventure Center

Arches National Park boasts over 2,000 arches – the the highest concentration of arches on the planet. One of the most popular national parks to visit, you need an advance purchase timed reservation to get in – or you can take a tour from an operator such as Moab Adventure Center © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Moab Adventure Center in the red rock playground of Moab, Utah, is prepared to guide its clients through the National Park Service’s (NPS) second consecutive season of requiring advance permits to access Arches National Park.

“If you snooze you may lose,” underscores Sierra Schmutz, General Manager of the Moab Adventure Center. “However, people who are unable to get permits in a timely fashion can still count on our popular, daily guide-led programs that offer entry to Arches on a space available basis.”
 
Moab Adventure Center’s tours showcase the more accessible of more than 2,000 arches, the highest concentration of arches on the planet. Driving and hiking through this Jurassic-aged wonderland provides a glimpse back in time when gentle geologic forces from deep below the surface bulged upward to crack the surface sandstone into fins that over time morphed into arches.
 
Two of Moab Adventure Center’s most popular tours are morning and sunset adventures led by professional guides who share information and wisdom about their experiences in this magical landscape. Each trip is 4 hours. Rates include snacks, water and Park entrance fees. Guests relax in a bus or a Sprinter Van with high ceilings and large picture windows for maximum viewing comfort. There are several stops to get up close with the terrain on short, scenic hikes. The rate is $108 for adults and $88 for ages 5 to 18.
 
Also available is a 30-minute airplane tour at $159 for adults and $120 ages 3-12. Rivers, canyons, and arches, plus the vast sweep of this slice of America’s west are revealed to guests from a bird’s eye perspective who are always welcome to share their questions with the pilot.
 
See details on Arches National Park Tours.
 
What began as a trial run policy in 2022 to upgrade the visitor experience by eliminating overcrowding will now take effect as an NPS standard operating procedure. This means that from April 1 to Oct. 1, 2023, visitors will need to secure in advance a timed entry reservation in order to enter Arches National Park between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The window for booking reservations opened January 10, 2023. Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov.
 
Reservations must be secured three months in advance of the anticipated date of visiting Arches. A single booking of a timed entry ticket covers each registered visitor (an individual, couple, group or family). Guests may enjoy the park all day, entering and re-entering at will with the validated ticket. The only cost visitors incur is a $2 Recreation.gov processing fee to obtain the ticket as well as paying the standard park entry fee. (It may also be possible to obtain a limited number of tickets through Recreation.gov up to midnight the day before planning to visit the park.) See more information on Arches National Park reservations and timed-entry tickets.
 
The timed entry program does not apply to tour operators such as Moab Adventure Center who have concessions contracts. If tourists miss getting a reservation or something unexpected comes up, Moab Adventure Center can always get them into the park as long as there’s a scheduled tour operating and there is space. For details see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/arches-national-park-tours and https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/arches-national-park
 
Moab Adventure Center (www.moabadventurecenter.com) is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532.

For information and reservations call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.

See also: UTAH ADVENTURE DAY 8: ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, A GEOLOGIC WONDERLAND

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Bike & Hike & Camp the North Rim of Grand Canyon!

Escape Adventures is offering a family-friendly, 5-day camping and mountain bike adventure that includes riding singletrack to Monument Point, hiking into the canyon on backcountry trails, pedaling across Kaibab Plateau, and conquering Rainbow Rim trail before descending to Indian Hollow.

While most of North America reels under hot summertime temperatures, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a wonderful high-altitude escape. Providing gently rolling terrain of lung-expanding dimensions, the North Rim has been long-held as sacred ground to hikers and cyclists alike.

Escape Adventures is offering a family-friendly, 5-day camping and mountain bike adventure that includes riding singletrack to Monument Point, hiking into the canyon on backcountry trails, pedaling across Kaibab Plateau, and conquering Rainbow Rim trail before descending to Indian Hollow. Prices for this adventure start at $1,349 per person and multiple departures are available May-October.

“For trekkers and active travelers of all levels, this tour is nothing less than the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Escape Adventures Founder Jared Fisher. “Gazing over the Canyon’s 9,200-ft North Rim, the immediate reaction of our guests runs from fear to reverie, and all agree that the old Arizona and Rainbow Rim Trails are the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon.”

Another benefit: the North Rim is much less crowded with tourists than the South Rim.

For more info, call 800.596.2953 or visit https://escapeadventures.com/tour/grand-canyon-north-rim-mountain-bike-tour/.  

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