Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Death Valley for pre- or post- spring break

My friend Mona writes to me about a different way to consider national parks: “Think of them as the original theme parks. Most people know that when it comes to education, inspiration and value, nothing beats a vacation in a U.S. national park," writes Mona. "What’s not as well-known, however, is that a variety of thrilling adventures are also available in national parks.”

Okay, I'll buy that concept. And when it comes to history and adventure, it’s tough to beat California's Death Valley National Park. Mona suggests hiking explorers’ trails in Death Valley : “With the ruts from wagons still visible, today’s guests can follow the trails made by explorers searching for a shortcut to gold in the 1840s. Breathtaking scenery surrounds hikers as they travel to the Harmony Borax Works, Golden Canyon, Mosaic Canyon and sand dunes. Celebrating its 15th year as a national park this year, Death Valley features the lowest point in the Americas at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level, and high alpine vistas of Telescope Peak at an elevation of 11,043 feet. Spectacular road and mountain biking adventures also abound.”

Thanks Mona, you’ve “peaked” (sic) my interest. This is a good time to plan a quick Death Valley adventure. I love the place (that's me, bundled up for a chilly dawn atop Zabriskie Point, above). But go now, before the hordes descend for Easter break, or go right after, while warm (not hot) spring weather still prevails.

Details: The best (and most convenient) lodging is at Xanterra Parks & Resorts' Furnace Creek Inn. For more information about Xanterra Parks & Resorts and online reservations visit For lodge reservations and more information about Death Valley (or Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, or Crater Lake), call 303/297-2757 or 888/297-2757.

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