If you're flexible enough to take a fall trip to some of the iconic national parks in the Western United States, there are a number of lodges that are reporting late-season availability. Lodges in Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley national parks all show some rooms available during the months of September and October.
“Autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit many national parks, and travelers who enjoy visiting parks during the off-season will find lodging options that are not typically available during peak season,” said Dave Hartvigsen, vice president of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates lodges in all those parks. “In Yellowstone, the animals are active and particularly fun to watch, and it is one of the best times of the year to hike the Grand Canyon. Zion, Bryce Canyon and Crater Lake National Parks are also starting to cool down, and we see many adventurers out enjoying extreme hikes and climbs during the slightly cooler weather. Fall is an exceptional season to enjoy the parks, based on lower demand, moderate temperatures, changing colors and active wildlife.”
All lodges operated by Xanterra can be booked online, and travelers can quickly determine room availability at their lodges of choice using online search tools accessible on the left side of each destination’s web site. Here are some examples of available rooms:
* Yellowstone National Park: The park’s nine lodges close between late September and mid-October. The first lodge to close is Roosevelt Lodge on Sept. 7, followed by Canyon Lodge and Grant Village, which close on Sept. 27. Lake Lodge closes Sept. 30, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel closes Oct. 5, Old Faithful Inn closes Oct. 11 and Old Faithful Snow Lodge closes on Oct. 17. Two lodges – Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge – reopen for the winter season. Mammoth reopens on Dec. 21 and Old Faithful Snow Lodge reopens Dec. 18.
Extremely popular throughout the summer, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge is often sold out. Rooms are available, however, on most nights from Oct. 1 through Oct. 17. The Lake Yellowstone Hotel, another popular lodge in the park, has rooms during the last week of September through its closing date on October 4. Other lodges that are presently showing availability the week before they close are Canyon Lodge, Grant Village, Lake Lodge, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Old Faithful Inn.
* Crater Lake National Park: Although rooms are frequently sold out during the summer, the historic Crater Lake Lodge has availability the entire week before it closes on Oct. 11. And the Cabins at Mazama Village, located near Crater Lake Lodge, also have availability the week before they close on Sept. 27.
* Bryce Canyon National Park: The seasonally operated Bryce Canyon Lodge in this southern Utah park has availability many nights during the month before it closes Oct. 31.
* Zion National Park: The year-round Zion Lodge also has rooms throughout the month of October. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Zion National Park this year, the lodge is offering a “Zion-tennial Rate” of $100 per night in a motel room Oct. 28 through Nov. 24. The rate is based on single or double occupancy. The rate does not include taxes and does not apply to groups or contracted rooms. This special rate can be booked online by using the promotional code “100for100.”
* Grand Canyon National Park: Although all six lodges at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are open year-round, many are fully booked during the summer season. The historic, 78-room El Tovar is typically the first lodge to sell out. During the months of November and December, however, there are still rooms available at El Tovar for visitors who book in the weeks ahead. The same holds true for the other three rim-view lodges – Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge. There are rooms available throughout September and October at the park’s two off-rim lodges – Maswik and Yavapai.
* Death Valley National Park. This is the park that likes to do its own thing. While most national parks are gearing down, Death Valley is gearing up for its high season. The elegant Furnace Creek Inn reopens on Oct. 9 for its eight-month season and will close again in mid-May when summer heat returns. Sister properties Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe Wells Village remain open year-round. All three properties show availability in October and November. Death Valley is a popular destination due to its tremendous size, geologic diversity and many outdoor activities.