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Fall and winter are excellent seasons to take advantage of smaller crowds and great deals at many of the U.S.'s spectacular National Parks. Whether you're into nature hikes, skiing, breathing in the fresh country air or just lazing the day away in front of an open fire place, the hotels and lodges of the U.S National Parks are perfect retreats from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For an unforgettable journey, it's difficult to think of a more spectacular location that the Grand Canyon (tel. 888/297-2757; www.grandcanyonlodges.com). Recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the sheer majesty and beauty of the Grand Canyon is unsurpassed. When you stay at Grand Canyon National Park Lodges you'll be located within the park itself.

The south rim of the Canyon is open all year. Enjoy seasonal packages and lower rates this fall and winter, starting from $72 per night for accommodations at two of the Grand Canyon Lodge's six distinctively different properties located along the south rim.

Maswik is a property spread over several acres of ponderosa pine forest, located just 1/4 mile from the Canyon's edge, whereas Yavapai is the largest hotel, surrounded by pinion and juniper woodlands, also about 1/4 mile from the rim. Rates are $72 per nights for rooms at Maswik South and Yavapai West or $82 at Maswik North and Yavapai East. For a cozy experience for two, try the "El Tovar Romance" package. The $264 price includes one night's accommodation at the historic El Tovar Hotel in a standard queen room, a bottle of Californian sparkling wine and a fruit basket in your room plus a dinner for two with wine in the El Tovar dining room.

These low rates are based on single or double occupancy. Add $9 for each additional person in the room. Children 16 years and under stay free. This offer is valid from November 27, 2005 to March 9, 2006 (excluding December 23, 2005 to January 2, 2006). Lodge subject to seasonal closures and availability. Taxes are additional.

At Yellowstone National Park (tel. 888/297-2757; www.travelyellowstone.com) stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, the only two in-park lodging facilities open during the winter season. Several winter getaway packages are on offer and all include two-nights lodging, two breakfasts per person, one welcome gift per person and two snow cards, offering additional 10% discounts on certain gift shop items, meals and equipment rental. All packages may be purchased with or without snowcoach transportation and must be reserved by phone.

The "Frosty Fun at Mammoth" package without snowcoach transportation includes one-hour hot tub use per room, unlimited ice skate rental and ice-skating from $99 double occupancy, $167 single occupancy. The "Frosty Fun at Old Faithful Snow Lodge" includes snowcoach transportation, from $229 double occupancy, $349 single occupancy. The "Nordic Heaven at Mammoth" includes one hour hot tub use per room, unlimited ice skate rental and ice skating, one-day ski rental per person and one ski drop per person for $119 double occupancy, $187 single occupancy. "Nordic Heaven at Old Faithful Snow Lodge" includes snowcoach transportation, one-day ski rental and one ski drop per person from $249 double occupancy, $369 single occupancy.

The "Guided Snowmodeal Tour at Mammoth" includes one-hour hot tub use per room, unlimited ice skate rental and ice-skating, one-day guided snowmobile tour to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or Old Faithful (snowmobile clothing included in the package). This package starts at $189 double occupancy, $347 single occupancy. The "Guided Snowmodeal Tour at Old Faithful Snow Lodge" includes one guided snowmobile tour to either the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or Mammoth. Starts at $319 per person double occupancy, $529 single occupancy with snowcoach transportation to Snow Lodge.

At historic Bryce Canyon Lodge (tel. 888/297-2757; www.brycecanyonlodge.com), the only lodging in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, the end of season special gives you a motel-style room for only $89 plus tax per night, a saving of $26 per night off the regular rate. This deal applies to reservations from October 24 to 31, 2005 only. When making a booking, use the BR89 promotional code.

As part of its winter season lodging promotion, stay at Zion Lodge (tel. 888/297-2757; www.zionlodge.com) in the middle of Zion National Park in Utah from December 1 2005 to March 9, 2006 and pay only $79 per night (Sunday to Thursday nights) in a standard room, $89 in a western cabin and $129 in a suite. Prices are based on double occupancy and include breakfast. Add $10 for a Friday or Saturday night stay. Blackout dates are December 31, 2005 and February 14, 2006.

Don't forget that the best way to save if you plan to visit several National Parks during a single year is to buy a $50 National Parks Pass (www.nps.gov). It provides a year's entrance to 379 US National Parks (valid for one full year from first use in a National Park) including vehicle and entrance fees for the whole family. Seniors 62 and over can buy a "Golden Age Passport" for National Parks that costs just $10. When the senior travels with friends or family in a private car, everyone in the car gets free entry. The Golden Age Passport also gives a 50% discount on camping, swimming, parking and tours. The Golden Age Passport must be purchased in person at a federal area where entrance fees are charged, or at regional offices of the National Park Service. Proof of age is required at the time of purchase. Help make a difference as more than 80% of funds go right back into the National Parks to fund vital projects.

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