With Year-End Holidays Not Far Off, Consider These National Park Escapes

With the approach of Christmas and New Year's, some people remain undecided about what to do and where to go for the holidays. Here are a few suggestions for year-end national park vacations that are likely to result in some lasting memories.

Anniversary Celebration of California Desert Protection Act at Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve scene.
October 31 isn't just about pumpkins and goblins anymore. The date also marks the anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act, a major milestone for Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. The day will be celebrated at a special event on Saturday at the Mojave National Preserve.

Winter Lodging Deals at Mammoth Cave, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley National Parks

Comparatively few people think of visiting national parks during the winter months, and that's unfortunate for a variety of reasons. Not only does this season present an entirely different view of the parks than the one you normally experience during spring and summer, but lodging typically is less expensive, as the following offers demonstrate.

Death Valley 49ers Gear Up for 60th Encampment

Nobody beats the Death Valley 49ers when it comes to staging festivals that masquerade as encampments. This year’s encampment at the biggest and driest national park in the coterminous U.S. is slated for November 4-8. It’s the 60th in the series, and it’ll be a dandy.

Fall and Winter Are Prime Seasons for Camping in These Parks

Campsite at Organ Pipe Cactus Nat. Mon.
It's just too hot to enjoy camping in some parks during the summer, but fall and winter are prime times for outdoor activity in those areas. Here's a sampling of NPS sites where the "off season" in the rest of the country can be the best season for camping.

National Park Quiz 70: Bad

This quiz will find out how much you know about bad people, bad happenings, bad decisions, and other bad stuff in the national parks. Answers are at the end. Peeking may produce bad results.

The Desert Queen: Death Valley National Park's Furnace Creek Inn

Perched on a rise in the middle of one of the world’s driest and hottest deserts sits what is surely a mirage. At least, it must seem that to first-time Death Valley visitors who are unfamiliar with elegant Furnace Creek Inn. The inn, an AAA Four-Diamond resort, endures and continues to welcome visitors with luxurious accommodations in what can only be described as an unusual setting where summer temperatures average over 100 degrees and frequently soar above 120 degrees.

Wanna See Something Too Gorgeous for Words? Check Out the New Non-Narrative “Living Death Valley” DVD

You won’t miss the voice-over when you view the new non-narrative “Living Death Valley” DVD. When you’ve got masterful photography, a wonderful musical score, and the landscape, floral, and faunal wonders of Death Valley to work with, you don’t need a lot of talk-talk.

Rooms Available For September and October Visits to National Parks in the West

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.

National Park Mystery Spot 2 Revealed: This Is One Very Big Basket!

Were you able to identify Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park?

National Park Mystery Spot 2: You Walk Around, I’ll Walk In

Can you identify this national park mystery spot with just six clues?

Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park

Death Valley scene.
An intended one-night camping trip to Death Valley National Park had a tragic ending for a mother and her 11-year-old son. They were stranded for five days after their vehicle got stuck in a remote area of the vast desert park. The mother was rescued but her son did not survive the intense heat.

Death Valley National Park Working To Protect Fish That Live in 90-Degree Hot Spring

A tiny fish, one that lives in a 90-degree hot spring within a limestone cave and whose fate once was pondered by the U.S. Supreme Court, is now the focus of a Death Valley National Park plan designed to help the species avoid extinction.

By the Numbers: Death Valley Weather

If it’s this hot where you are, you need to go somewhere else.

Of Death Marches, Rain, and Misdirected Envy in Death Valley National Park

The ranger wore a concerned look and a pair of latex gloves. When I tried to approach him he warned me not to come near him. This did not look good.

Softness Continues To Be the Story Across National Park Lodging

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.

June 30 is Deadline for Comments on Death Valley Wilderness Stewardship Plan

If you’d like to comment on wilderness resource values and management alternatives in the largest named wilderness in the continental U.S., you’ve still got time, but you’d better hurry. The deadline for public input on the Death Valley Wilderness Stewardship Plan has been extended to June 30.

National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans

In this summer of economic discontent, businesses that operate lodgings in the National Park System are coming up with their own strategies for luring visitors.

Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks

A spate of fatalities in the national parks this spring sends a sobering message: parks can be dangerous places. But they don't have to be if you remember some simple rules when visiting the parks.

Hiker Dies at Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Death Valley unfortunately lived up to its name earlier this week, when an Ohio hiker failed to return from a day trip in the park.

Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire

Remains of the Barker Ranch.
Some otherwise ordinary sites achieve notoriety in unlikely ways. That was the case with the Barker Ranch in Death Valley National Park, which burned under mysterious circumstances earlier this week. Its link with history? Charles Manson.

National Park Quiz 53: Castles

Castles here, castles there, castles everywhere. If you know your national park castles, you’ll do just fine on this week’s quiz. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll make you write on the whiteboard 100 times: “Medieval castle walls have visually distinctive battlements featuring alternating crenels and merlons.”

National Park Service Concerned Over Solar Power Plans on BLM Lands in West

DEVA-Artists Palette, Kurt Repanshek photo
The National Park Service has been trying to raise its "climate friendly" image in recent months, but it's concerned about the potential impact huge solar power arrays on Western lands could have on national parks.
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Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks

Guys who holler “watch this!” just before they do something incredibly stupid aren’t the only jackasses in our national parks. We’ve got the real kind too, and where there are feral burros the habitat is degraded and native wildlife suffer. Cute though they may be, burros are unwelcome in our national parks.

Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park

Canyon at Death Valley.
A 58-year-old woman sustained serious injuries earlier this week in an isolated canyon at Death Valley National Park. Two rangers on patrol in the area heard calls for help and set a rescue into motion.

Can You Find the Desert Five-Spot In Death Valley National Park?

Desert Five-Spot, Jimmie Affholder photo.
With all the talk of late about the prospects for a colorful, and plentiful, bloom in Death Valley National Park, let's start talking flowers in earnest. For instance, have you ever seen a Desert Five-Spot in the park?

National Park Quiz 42: Rocks and Minerals

This week’s quiz will find out whether you are a rock star. Answers are at the end. If we catch you peeking, we’ll give you a sledge hammer and make you turn big rocks into little ones.

Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?

Rain and snow have pelted Death Valley National Park somewhat frequently this winter, which raises the question of whether there will be a tremendous spring bloom in the park?