The National Park Service reports that 2015 is on its way to besting the 2014 record for park visitation.
But with parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Death Valley each covering more than 1,500 square miles, how do time-stressed people at the 11th hour begin to figure out where in a park they want to be?
Last minute planning can also present issues when trying to find accommodations a month or two out. This is especially true in the national parks where for preservation purposes, lodging is limited to a handful of strategically located properties.
That’s when it pays off to call an experienced, well-connected tour operator like Billings, MT-based Austin Adventures, a veteran of 40+ years in America’s national parks.
“Demand for our national park vacations has never been greater,” says Dan Austin, President and Founder of Austin Adventures (http://www.austinadventures.com/). “We sell trips to all seven continents, but in April alone, 71 percent of our bookings were for national park vacations.” He attributed the high interest in the parks this spring to such marketing initiatives as April’s National Park Week and the ongoing Find Your Park campaign celebrating the upcoming NPS centennial.
Fortunately for Austin Adventures, its parent company is Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country’s largest operator of park-based hotels and resorts. Xanterra manages the in-park lodging for some of the most popular parks including Yellowstone, Glacier,Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Crater Lake National Parks. Austin Adventures offers guided, all-inclusive, group family and adult vacations to these destinations. Its experienced adventure travel consultants can also arrange custom and exclusive national park packages for private groups and individuals.
“One of the perks of being owned by Xanterra is being able to provide our guests with the absolute best rooms and dining experiences in our favorite national parks. But to some degree, this new, behind-the-scenes access and insiderinformation isn’t that new to us. We’ve been leading trips in national parks like Yellowstone since 1974, so we have decades of experience and establishing important park relationships behind us,” says Austin.
Voted Travel+Leisure’s World’s Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter in 2012, Austin Adventures is well-known in the travel industry for its exceptional guides and carefully curated itineraries that offer maximum value—especially when it comes to national park vacations, its forte. Throughout their vacation, guests are treated to “WOW” factors like their guides surprising them with ice cream sundaes on a summit in Zion, red carpet (literally) VIP treatment when it comes to transportation and hikes to secret vantage points for stunning aerial-like photo opportunities of the same sights that the crowds below are waiting in line to see.
Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Yellowstone National Park Lodges has seen the Austin Adventures magic at work. “Our Yellowstone staff can always spot Austin Adventures guests as they are typically smiling and obviously part of an engaged group that has developed great camaraderie. Now that Austin Adventures has joined the Xanterra family, it is even clearer to us why those guests are so happy. The Austin Adventures guides are wonderful to work with and are always focused on taking care of their guests’ needs.”
The company’s unparalleled attention to detail from that first phone call to the final drop-off at the airport and its guides’ uncanny ability to be considered “extended family” by guests is what led one guest to coin the company’s tagline, “The Toughest Part is Going Home.”
- “Our guides did everything from waking up early with a few guests to watch a sunrise over the Tetons to organizing fun family games like the ‘Oreo Cookie Race’.” – The Hall Family –Yellowstone/Teton National Park Adventure – Berlin, NJ
- “Austin Adventures planned everything to a “t.” I could NEVER have planned and executed this trip on my own. There were so many extra touches.” – Cathy Garrett – Yosemite National Park – Baltimore, MD
For travelers who are still looking to take a national park trip in June or July, Austin Adventures has blocks of in-park rooms reserved and is happy to help accommodate those looking for a first-rate national park vacation during peak travel season. Last minute space is available on a number of popular packages including the following:
Yellowstone Family Adventure: This all-inclusive 6-day vacation to the world’s first national park features backcountry family-friendly hikes, horseback riding with 4th generation cowboys and an exciting rafting trip down the scenic Yellowstone River. Guests spend four of their five nights in the park at historic park accommodations including Old Faithful Inn, Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins. From $2,298/adult and $1,838/child.
Grand Canyon Family Adventure: Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of riding the Grand Canyon Railway, seeing the bears at Bearizona, hiking around Montezuma Castle and taking a refreshing “dip and slip” on this 6-day vacation. Other trip highlights include biking part of a scenic rails-to-trails system and enjoying gourmet barbeque in a private dining room with views overlooking the canyon. Accommodations include Grand Canyon National Park Lodges like Kachina Lodge and Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. From $2,698/adult and $2,158/child.
Crater Lake Adult Adventure: Bike down a highway of waterfalls and along the rim of an ancient volcano on this 6-day vacation that visits the deepest lake in the U.S. Hike to the highest point in Crater Lake National Park, raft Oregon’s Rogue River and sit under the stars and catch some classic theater at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Guests spend two nights in lakeside rooms at Crater Lake Lodge which is celebrating its centennial in 2015. From $2,598/adult.
Austin Adventures vacations are all-inclusive and more details including departure dates and trip prices are available in the Austin Adventures adventure vacation catalogs and on its new website, www.austinadventures.com.