Softness Continues To Be the Story Across National Park Lodging

Available rooms at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley National Park, and elsewhere in the National Park System, seem plentiful. Xanterra Parks & Resorts photo.

Though summer is officially here and the Fourth of July is within sight, there continues to be a softness in the demand for lodging space in the national parks this summer and into the fall.

At Death Valley National Park there's still good availability for rooms at the Furnace Creek Inn, and there's quite a bit of space available in the typically hard-to-get High Sierra Camps at Yosemite National Park.

Last year at this time, the luxurious Furnace Creek Inn was already sold out on many days in late October and early November. This year, though, you've still got rooms to choose from.

“Economic concerns have prompted travelers to wait longer than usual to finalize their vacation plans,” says Phil Dickinson, director of sales and marketing for the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort. “Although we expect our occupancy to ultimately be on par with previous years, there is still plenty of room at the Inn right now.”

The 66-room inn is typically sold out on many days between late October and March, said Dickinson.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates lodges in many national parks, reports that similar booking trends are being seen at their properties in Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, and on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Although visitors can book rooms up to 13 months in advance in those locations, few are doing so this year. And that is a huge departure from travel patterns at national park lodges just a few years ago.

“It used to be quite common for travelers to book their national park vacations a year in advance of their travel so they could be sure to get their pick of rooms, particularly at smaller, high-demand lodges like the Furnace Creek Inn,” says Mr. Dickinson. “At least this year, that pattern has turned upside down.”

Comments

The credit bubble has burst. The Fed inflated prices through its easy credit policy; there's tremendous downward pressure on prices, but our government keeps interfering and trying to prop up an unsustainable bubble. Stories about the "softness" of concessionaires' profit will continue for the next few years, especially after the bulk of the stimulus funds hit during the next fiscal year. Inflation will keep prices high and price all but the elite out of our national parks. Hopefully, that's as bad as it'll get and our government won't borrow and spend us into hyperinflation; things are not so great in Zimbabwe.

The U.S. has passed a historic inflection point. It is unlikely that the days of cheap and easy travel, along with the intensely consumptive lifestyle of the past few decades, will return any time soon - if at all. Rather than trying to resuscitate an economic model that is unsustainable and wasting precious resources and time, it would more productive to begin the process of moving into a less consumptive and more sustainable system.