Never Too Late to Plan a National Park Vacation
Park vacations continue to be popular with travelers from the United
States, and many people plan their park vacations well in advance.
That does not mean that a National Park vacation is out of the question
for those who have not yet made plans.
By following a few suggestions, any traveler can have a fine vacation
in one of the countrys most spectacular places with as little
as 24 hours notice:
Be a bargain hunter. National Park vacations are a great value.
Prices at lodges, restaurants and gift shops inside the parks often
are lower than prices at facilities outside the parks.
Be as flexible as possible with travel dates and choice of
lodging, and youll stand a better chance of getting a room on
short notice. You can check frequently to see when rooms become available.
Book activities and make dinner reservations by calling the
reservations office. Since reservations are available six months in
advance, plan ahead when possible. Dining rooms do fill up, so if
you want a meal at one of the lodges, plan ahead. Popular activities,
such as the Old West Cookout at Yellowstones Roosevelt Lodge,
fill up fast.
The National Park Service expects visitation to National Parks to
drop this year, so there should be plenty of room available at the
parks this summer.
For a wide range of information on the many parks, check the Web site
RECORD: On Jan. 3, the ongoing volcanic eruption of the
Kilauea on Hawaiis Big Island will turn 20 years old, becoming
Earths longest recorded eruption in history.
Since 1983, Kilauea has produced a lava show filled with fiery scenes,
fast-flowing underground movements and the slow tempo of surface flows
that descend into the sea. Each act and scene causes onlookers to
inhale with anticipation and exhale with exultation as Pele, Hawaiis
fire goddess, demonstrates her power.
Kilaueas eruption has added more than 570 acres of new land
to Hawaiis youngest but largest island.
More than 2.5 million visitors a year flock to Hawaii Volcanoes National
Park to witness the major fireworks display, as well as to witness
the diverse landscape that surrounds Hawaiis most active volcano.
One enters the park among the lush greenery of rainforests at a cool
and misty 4,000-foot elevation. Drive to the lava viewing area at
sea level and witness the dramatic change of scenery as sharp edges
of lava and smooth sinewy pahoehoe lava begin to dominate the landscape.
Once at the lava viewing station, the hike over crisp layers and hardened
pools of lava brings eager visitors to stand within a few yards of
the fiery glow of Peles land-making power.
The trip is not without risk, however. Signs throughout the viewing
area warn visitors that because lava and steam vents are unpredictable,
there is a small degree of danger involved in up-close viewing.
In addition to the volcanic activity, the park offers miles of fantastic
hiking trails and a variety of museums. A $10 entrance fee provides
access to seven consecutive days of volcano adventure, should you
decide to stay in the area.
The park is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The Yellowstone Association is offering guided excursions to help
visitors view and learn about the wildlife of Yellowstone National
Park. Vans take groups no larger than 10 people to view bison, elk,
bighorn sheep, wolves and bears. Expert wildlife biologists show visitors
where, when and how to look, and provide guests with a deeper understanding
of wildlife behavior, ecology and conservation.
The programs are offered Wednesdays to Sundays through Sept. 1. Instruction
includes the use of high-powered spotting scopes and in-park transportation.
For information, call the toll-free number 1-877-967-0090.