Tips for Making National Park Room Reservations This Summer
Visits to the country's 387 national park sites have dropped
seven percent in the past five years. They're forecast to drop
again this year. That means it's not too late to make national
park travel plans. According to the country's largest operator of
national park lodging, restaurants and other concessions, this
year offers a prime opportunity for prospective visitors.
"Although calls to our reservations centers are beginning to
increase, we're a long way from selling out, especially at parks
like Death Valley and the Grand Canyon," says Judi Lages, vice
president of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts.
"We believe domestic travelers will want to visit classic
American destinations like national parks, so we expect many
families to make last-minute decisions to take a drive to the
Grand Canyon or Yellowstone."
By following a few simple suggestions, any traveler can enjoy an
affordable and memorable vacation in one the country's most
spectacular settings, even with as little as 24 hours' notice.
Lages offers these tips for planning a national park vacation.
1. Be informed. Visit Xanterra's web site (www.xanterra.com) for general information on
the parks, plus lodging descriptions, rates and availability.
Rooms can be booked online. Also visit the National Park Service
2. Be aware."Reservations services" charge non-
refundable fees to book rooms, a service that is free for those
who book directly with authorized concessioners like Xanterra.
Some of these reservations companies have names and web site
graphics that may lead consumers to believe they are dealing with
the National Park Service.
3. Be a bargain-hunter. Prices at lodges,
restaurants and gift shops inside the parks are often lower than
prices at facilities outside the parks. Visitors can find great
bargains on popular items such as Black Hills Gold at the Mount
Rushmore National Memorial gift shop and Native American jewelry
at the award-winning Hopi House gift shop at the South Rim of
Grand Canyon National Park. Learn about rates and specials by
visiting www.xanterra.com and following links to specific
parks and resorts.
4. Be flexible. Because some people make their
plans far in advance, they often have to change or cancel
existing reservations. Be as flexible as possible with travel
dates and choice of lodging and you stand a better chance of
getting a room on short notice. Check the website frequently to
see if rooms have become available. Roughly 70 percent of the 907
guest rooms at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are
located off the rim. There's still considerable availability at
the off-rim locations; guests who are flexible are more likely to
find a room.
5. Be timely. International tour operators
reserve blocks of rooms up to two years in advance expecting to
sell them as part of tour packages. If all the rooms are not
sold, operators must release them for resale 30 days out.
6. Book activities prior to your arrival. Call
the reservations office because popular activities like the Old
West Cookout at Yellowstone's Roosevelt Lodge fill up fast.
Also, dining rooms do fill, but dinner reservations at some
restaurants like the El Tovar Dining Room at Grand Canyon's South
Rim can be made six months in advance.
For reservations and more information about Grand Canyon,
Bryce Canyon or Zion, call (1) 303-297-2757
or toll-free at (1) 888-297-2757.
For reservations and more information about Yellowstone,
call (1) 307-344-7311.
For reservations and more information about Flamingo Lodge
in Everglades National Park, call (1) 800-600-3813
or (1) 239-695-3101.
For reservations at Crater Lake Lodge, call (1) 541-
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