Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Make reservations now for summer 2008

National Parks, TRAVEL

Although summer 2008 seems a long way off, it is already getting late in the season for making National Park lodging reservations! Popular parks fill up faster than the lesser known parks.

Yellowstone (our family favorite) is already showing no vacancy dates for various days throughout next summer. Don't let that discourage you, sometimes you can still work out your itinerary by staying in two locations. This happened to us our first trip in 2001--we had to move for one night in the middle of a 2 week stay. That was a huge waste of time though, and time is money when you are on vacation.

I recommend, if you are even just thinking of going, that you make your reservations now. It is easy to do. Most parks have online registration. They will charge your credit card the first night's rate but will refund it in whole if you cancel within a certain time frame (usually 48 hours prior to reserved date).

Our favorite place to be at Yellowstone is right on the geyser basin at Old Faithful Lodge cabins. We stay in the budget cabins (no bathroom--much like camping) but they do have other cabins with a bath. These accommodations are rather simple, but fit the three main rules of real estate: location, location, location! Last summer we must have seen Old Faithful erupt 100 time from this superb location. Can't beat that!

So mouse around on the National Park website and find the park of your choice. If the park has in-park lodging, there is usually a link to it. Park hotels and lodges are managed by a private company, not the National Park Service. These private companies usually manage several of the parks in a region. Yellowstone, for example, is managed by Xanterra.

Sometimes it is fun to stay in one of the more famous historic lodges, but they are too pricey for my budget. Their room rate did not prevent us from enjoying a meal, sitting by the fire in the lobby, or enjoying a tour though. There was a PBS series called Great Lodges of the National Parks, which gave detailed information about the famous lodges and their history. It is a wonderfully done production with a companion book that is a treat to page through. Our CAFE library system has both the book and the DVD.

I also own 2 very helpful books by David and Kay Scott. Their Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges book gives very practical advice on what each park accommodation is like and even includes their exact room or location preferences. I've found their suggestions helpful. Their other book, Guide to the National Park Areas gives a thumbnail sketch of each park, with map, and other helpful planning information. Our library system has both books. 

Just writing this post makes me want to start planning my next trip and packing my suitcase!

Again, if you have any questions or want any other information, just email me. I enjoyed hearing from you regarding my Mammoth Cave post--hope to hear from some of you again.

You can also reserve campground sites, mule rides or other special activities in advance too. Be sure to check the cancellation policy first.

PLEASE BE AWARE that as a rule, the cabins, hotels, lodges, etc. are NOT luxury accommodations. They usually do not have a TV or phone and often no air conditioning. In fact, hotel owners in the private sector would never get away with what they offer if it was in any other setting. The most we ever paid for a room--ever--was in Yosemite at Curry Village. The cabin was $145/night. OUCH--painful for a frugal girl like me. It had the worst, ratty bathroom I ever saw, but we were right in the valley with the granite bluffs just outside our cabin door. Can't beat that view--remember the 3 rules of real estate? It also had a black bear that visited at 2am. Staying on grounds in the park really does enhance the whole experience--after all, you aren't going there to spend time in the room! The lobbies and common areas of the lodges are usually quite charming.

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