Yellowstone image - Ken Clements, photographer
National Parks. We hope that they will be with us forever. That's the idea at least, to ensure that these prized natural iconic ecosystems of our American landscape can be treasured and appreciated for generations to come. The national parks offer a sustainable legacy that can embody a sense of wonder, hope and beauty for all Americans and those that visit them.
Just over a hundred years ago, President Ulysses S Grant proclaimed the first federally protected park in 1872 by designating Yellowstone as the first national park in the United States. His declaration set in place a system to conserve many of America's most unique and pristine environments. Can you imagine the first encounter a visitor had years ago when discovering Yellowstone National Park's geo-thermal wonders? Bubbling hot pots, spouting geysers and a formidable landscape fuming with vapors and swirls of mist? How unearthly, how strangely beautiful, surrounded by snow-topped mountains.
Over the years, Yellowstone became an American pilgrimage of sorts where many of our great-grandparents took vacations with their families camping, hiking and wildlife viewing; where lasting memories were captured near "Old Faithful" which served as a backdrop to many family vacation photographs.
Bison Babies in Yellowstone - Ken Clements, photographer
Visiting national parks is an excursion many families have enjoyed for over a century now. Recently, a friend of mine from Idaho packed up his family for a day trip to Yellowstone National Park. They brought along a cooler full of picnic goodies for a great lunch by one of the pristine lakes in the park and were anticipating a full day of sighting Yellowstone's precious inhabitants - the wonderful wildlife and their new babes. They were not disappointed. On this page you can view a few pictures of the babies seen that day. And this excursion was in late May so there is still time to get to the park and see the wonderful new life along the meadows. You'll see baby bison, elk, and bear too. (Oh my!) Keep your distance though, the mother's are not too keen on visitors disturbing their little families. And remember to pack out everything you pack in. The beauty of Yellowstone relies on the responsibility of its visitors, so never leave trash behind.
Yellowstone Bison mom and baby
Ken Clements, photographer
Plus, now visitors have a better chance at finding rooms inside the park this summer. “If someone ever thought about visiting Yellowstone, this is the year to do it,” said Jim McCaleb, general manager for Xanterra at Yellowstone. “In any given week or month this year reduced demand means there are more rooms to be found than in any recent years. If summer visitation drops at the same rate it did this past winter, this could be the least crowded summer in two decades.”
In addition to being the best location in the world for viewing geysers and other thermal features, Yellowstone has always been a good value. This year will be even better as Xanterra is kicking off the summer with a series of special offers called the SUMMER GETAWAY PACKAGES. The packages will be available at selected hotels from SEASON OPENING in May through mid-June. In addition to saving up to 25 percent off peak season rates, the packages will feature a welcome gift, tours, breakfasts and discount card.
Xanterra operates nine lodges in Yellowstone. The lodges open on a staggered schedule beginning May 1 until all are open in mid-June. They then begin closing in early September with the Old Faithful Snow Lodge the last property to close Oct. 18, 2009. Rates start at $64 per night for a cabin and $89 for historic hotel rooms with shared bathrooms.
“There are plenty of open nights, and the bottom line is that this is a great year to visit Yellowstone National Park,” said McCaleb. “We still have availability every day of the summer, including the traditional peak periods.”
So folks, there are deals left for a last-minute visit. My own plans include a visit to Yellowstone next week. I'll let you know my discoveries with more articles on Yellowstone National Park later this summer. Stay tuned.