Although summer is the peak season for visiting U.S. National Parks with prices at their highest for the year, there are still deals to be had, discounts to discover and adventures to experience in the great outdoors during these warmer months.
Shenandoah National Park (tel. 888/896-3833; www.visitshenandoah.com) offers a Midweek Escape package. This one night package includes overnight lodging for two people in a standard or traditional room at Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge, breakfast for two, and two tickets to Luray Caverns. Stay a second night and receive a $30 gas voucher good at any Aramark gas station in the park. The price is $129 for stays from Sunday to Thursday nights through July 31, 2008 (excluding holidays). Taxes and surcharges are included. The gas voucher issued expires August 1, 2008. Their Early Bird package features one night's lodging in a traditional room at Skyland or Big Meadows and breakfast for two for $99, including taxes plus NPF donation and water surcharge. Valid through June 26, 2008 only but excludes Fridays and Saturdays.
Mesa Verde National Park (tel. 888/896-3831; www.visitmesaverde.com), the World Heritage listed site in southwest Colorado, has a number of current packages for stays at Far View Lodge, known for its Native American-inspired cuisine and its cultural, archaeological, and architectural guided tours. The DIVAcation Retreat package is valid until October 20, 2008 and includes two nights accommodations in a Far View Lodge kiva room for two people, full American breakfast buffet for two each morning, a private tour for two of Mesa Verde's ancient sites (with a regularly scheduled Cliff Palace ranger-led walking tour with up to 60 park visitors in addition to your party), Metate Room "Wine Pairings" dinner for two, a Spa welcome basket, and a $50 retail voucher. This package is priced at $749 plus taxes and NPS-approved energy surcharges.
Their Family Value package is priced at $339 plus taxes for two adults and two children aged 11 and under. It features two nights' accommodations in a standard room, full American breakfast buffet for everyone each morning, a half-day ranger-guided bus tour of Mesa Verde's ancient sites including Cliff Palace and complimentary dinner for two children for two nights. The Wine and Arts Festival package is only valid on August 22 and 23, 2008. It includes two nights' accommodations, a Winemaker's Dinner for two at the Lodge's Metate Room restaurant on Friday August 22, full American breakfast buffet for two each morning, a bottle of Colorado wine in room, a half-day ranger-guided bus tour including Cliff Palace and Chapin Mesa, and admission for two to the Wine Tasting event on Saturday August 23 at Cortez City Park. The price is $539 plus tax for two adults in standard lodging or upgrade to kiva lodging for an additional $70. The Cities of Sandstone package is valid until October 20, 2008 and includes two nights standard lodging, two tickets for the half-day Cliff Palace/Mesa Loop ranger-guided bus tour and full American breakfast buffet for two each morning for $339 or $299 for AAA members (plus taxes and NPS-approved energy surcharges).
If you are Wyoming bound this summer, staying in Jackson Hole gives you easy access to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks. Hotel Terra (tel. 800/631-6281; www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com) is a luxurious yet eco-friendly "green hotel" with sweeping views of the Teton Mountains and Jackson Hole Valley. Its "Discover the Parks" package is valid until October 15, 2008. It features guestroom accommodations for two to four nights, a full-day guided expedition into Yellowstone National Park, including pick up and drop off from hotel and a guidebook to the hikes, flora and fauna in Grand Teton National Park. The package is priced from $323 plus tax per night for two people, double occupancy. The Passport to the Parks package includes four nights' lodging in a Terra Guest Room, a seven-day park pass for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, daily breakfast for two at Terra Cafe and a $30 gas credit. Starting price per night is $233 plus tax per night based on double occupancy. During the summer, book for three nights and get the fourth night free. The Family Frontier Package is based on a family of two adults and two children 12 and under traveling together. It includes four nights lodging in a spacious one bedroom suite, daily breakfast for four in Terra Cafe and one activity of your choice: Whitewater (guided whitewater rafting), Trekker (private guided hike) or Trail Rider (two hour guided horseback ride). The package is priced from $489 plus tax per night (depending on activity chosen). Hotel Terra's sister property Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa (www.tetonlodge.com) offers similar packages plus the fourth night free incentive.
The Navajo Nation sacred site of Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona is a less crowded option as far as National Parks are concerned during the summer. Although temperatures throughout the Southwest often soar during the months of August and September, the temperature in Canyon de Chelly is generally moderate with low humidity, making it an ideal summer destination. A four-hour drive from Albuquerque, N.M., Thunderbird Lodge (tel. 800/679-2473; www.tbirdlodge.com) is the only lodging facility inside Canyon de Chelly. It sits on the site of a trading post built in 1896 and its gift shop offers some of the region's finest examples of Native American jewelry, rugs and crafts. Adobe-style rooms with two queen beds are priced from $107 per night for single occupancy and only $4 for each additional person during the summer. Rates for a "de Chelly" room featuring two double beds are $102 for a single and $4 for each additional person. A suite with a king bed and queen sofa sleeper is available for $152 for a single or double occupancy, $157 for triple occupancy and $162 for quad occupancy. Thunderbird Lodge also makes visiting the canyon easy by offering authorized group half- and full-day tours in six-wheel drive touring vehicles operated by experienced and knowledgeable Navajo guides. Visitors can take in Anasazi ruins, pictographs, petroglyphs and historic battle sites. Rates for full-day tours with lunch are $70.30 per person or half-day tours are $43 for adults and $33 for children 12 and under. The lodge offers a two-night package called the "Magical History Tour" featuring two nights in the lodge, continental breakfast for two each morning, a 10 percent discount in the gift shop, a canyon tour for two people and a DVD. The two-night package with a half-day tour is priced at $345 or $395 with a full-day tour.
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