The Latest Lodging "Deals"
OK, fall is quickly on its way, with winter not too far behind. That means park concessionaires are starting to trot out seasonal packages that may, or may not, be deals, depending on your point of view.
With that said, here's the latest rundown of lodging packages that I know of:
Mesa Verde National Park: Far View Lodge is offering its "Fall Discovery Package," which includes a standard, double occupancy room, a half-day tour for two of "ancient sites and dwellings" in the park, and a complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner for two at the lodge's Metate Room. The package, at $245 per couple, is available from September 27th to October 21st. You can upgrade to a Kiva Room for another $47. While I'm not overly impressed with the standard rooms -- when I was there in May 2005 they were in need of new furnishings, including carpeting, and were somewhat cramped -- the Metate Room is one of the better park restaurants and the park itself is fantastic if you're into ancient history. For reservations, try 1-800-449-2288.
Zion National Park: Zion Lodge offers its "Awe-some Autumn" package for guests staying two consecutive nights anytime between Nov. 1 and Nov. 20. The package basically gives you a 50 percent discount on the second night's stay. Rates for a standard room start at $140.50. Not a bad deal, especially when you consider the lodge is in the heart of Zion Canyon. To get this deal, mention the promotion code "BOGO" when you call. The reservations number is 1-888-297-2757. Ask if they won't give you that rate for a western cabin, which I think are much nicer than the lodge rooms.
The lodge also has winter rates, which are good from December 1 through March 8, 2007. Between Sunday and Thursday, these rates get you a standard room for $80 and a western cabin for $90. Friday and Saturday stays will cost you another $10 for either accommodation. Of course, during the holidays -- between December 22 and 30th as well as February 16-18 -- the rates will jump another $10 a night. The "Zion in Winter" package also gets you breakfast. To qualify, mention "WNTR" when making your reservation.
Shenandoah National Park: From now through November 25th -- not counting holidays and the ENTIRE month of October, which is the leaf-peeping month -- the Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge offer their "Weekend Romance Package." For $349 you get two nights in a standard room at either lodge, a "Champagne and Welcome Snack Basket" on your arrival, a continental breakfast for two delivered to your room on one of the mornings, and a picnic basket for two. You can find more details here.
Sequoia National Park: If you can travel soon, you can get a room at Wuksachi Lodge in the heart of this park for $99 a night. This offer is good Sundays through Thursdays and only until October 1. The promo code is "SEMFS."