Though summer's winding down more quickly than any of us would prefer, there's still at least a month of great weather to be enjoyed before fall or winter make their presence known. If your schedule allows, here are some intriguing packages been offered across the National Park System:
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (www.nps.gov/lame)
Black Canyon River Adventures: River Rafting below Hoover Dam at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Raft the Colorado River. Spend a day imbibing the history, desert wildlife, and beauty of the Black Canyon. Raft tours launch from the base of the Hoover Dam and include a box lunch in a souvenir cooler. For reservations call tel. 800/455-3490 or 702/294-1414 and request Code: WEBSO09 for $5 off. Offer valid for up to four people on trips through 12/31/09. www.blackcanyonadventures.com
Grand Teton National Park (www.nps.gov/grte)
Signal Mountain Lodge, 25th Anniversary Pre-Labor Day Special, August 23-September: Stay in Grand Teton National Park before Labor Day and enjoy the fabulous views of the Grand Tetons at a special price in Lower Lakefront Retreats. Enjoy two queen beds, a sofa bed, kitchenette and a view of Jackson Lake and the Tetons. $199.00, plus tax
Not valid with any other offer. Please ask for Pre-Labor Day Special at time of booking. Visit Signal Mountain Lodge at www.signalmtnlodge.com or call tel. 307/543-2831 for reservations.
Isle Royale National Park (www.nps.gov/isro)
Rock Harbor Lodge in Isle Royale National Park, Kayak Ecotours, August 25-29, 2009: Loons crying in the early mornings, gray wolves and moose telling the story of survival and co-adaptation. Visit world-recognized Peterson cabin, where more than 25 years of wolf and moose research has taken place. This all inclusive eco-tour provides transportation, which starts at Houghton, Michigan, with a ferry ride to the island, provides fresh meals, kayaks, maps, permits and fees, and ecologist/kayak guide. Five days/four nights at Rock Harbor Lodge on the island. Some paddling experience suggested, but not necessary. The price is $1,506 for a single; $2,690 per couple/double occupancy.
Trips limited to 10 people. For reservations, tel. 906/337-4993 or 866/644-2003. Visit Rock Harbor Lodge, www.rockharborlodge.com
Yellowstone National Park (www.nps.gov/yell)
Fall Wolf and Elk Discovery: This Lodging & Learning program offered by Xanterra Parks & Resorts includes four nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel; three breakfasts, three lunches and one dinner per person; in-park transportation; a welcome gift and expert instruction by a Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI) naturalist/guide. $619 per person based on double occupancy.
Roosevelt Rendezvous: Participants in this four-night package Lodging & Learning program stay at the historic Roosevelt Lodge in the northern part of the park. Guests participate in their choice of daily field trips, many with a wildlife theme. Other field trips include geology treks and guided hikes. The program includes all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, in-park transportation and expert instruction by a YAI naturalist/guide. $679 per person based on two people in a guest cabin.
Wake up to Wildlife: This four-hour early-morning tour explores Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, often called the "American Serengeti" because of the abundance of wildlife in the region. Participants travel in a Historic Yellow Bus, and a trained driver/guide leads the group through the region searching for wildlife. Continental breakfast included. $67 for adults and $33 for children between eight and 15 years old.
Kayaking Yellowstone Lake: Visitors with a sense of adventure -- and a little upper body strength -- can reserve a backcountry shuttle operated by Xanterra to take them to one of several drop-off points from the eastern shore to the Southeast arm of the massive lake. Canoes or rowboats can be rented; visitors need to bring their own kayaks. Once dropped off, travelers can explore the remote park locations by foot or paddle. Pick-ups are pre-arranged. The final drop of the season is Sept. 13.
Circle of Fire tour: This tour is for visitors who find the park's geothermal activity fascinating. The tour stops at numerous geothermal hot spots including the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Norris Geyser Basin. The full-day tour also includes a stop for lunch at a park restaurant. The lunch is not included in the tour price. The tour departs in the morning from one of six park locations. $63 for adults, $31.50 for children between eight and 15 and free for children under eight.
For more information on the Yellowstone tours and to make reservations, visit www.travelyellowstone.com/summer-tours-activities-199.html. The Xanterra web site also offers an activities search feature that allows visitors to look for activities by duration, intensity level and region of the park.
Kurt Repanshek is the author of several national park guidebooks, including National Parks With Kids. You can get a daily dose of national park news, trivia, and commentary by visiting www.nationalparkstraveler.com. This site tracks "Commentary, News, and Life in America's Parks." Follow National Parks Traveler on Twitter at www.twitter.com/parkstraveler.
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