Celebrate National Park Week: 5 Luxe Places You Can ‘Camp’ Sans Tent


yellowstone national park - national park week 2012

National Park Week has begun! Many travelers will be taking advantage of free access to our country’s best national parks but, if they’re anything like this writer, won’t want to sleep in a tent after.

So, instead of camping try “glamping” at some of these great hotels near national parks that let you enjoy nature without giving up your creature comfort – no camping required.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Just minutes from Grand Teton National Park and a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, Four Seasons Jackson Hole offers a famed wildlife safari program, complete with an in-house wildlife biologist. Can’t make it during National Park Week? Enjoy special backstage access to these National Parks through the hotel’s summer packages.

Moonlight Basin, Montana
Located just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Moonlight is surrounded by Montana’s spectacular Rocky Mountains. Moonlight Basin’s Mountain Concierge Team can plan experiences from rafting on the Gallatin River to fly-fishing adventures and more.

Estes Park, Colorado
As a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, the year-old Della Terra Mountain Chateau is one of the area’s most luxe boutique properties.

Terranea Resort, California
This Destination Hotels & Resorts property located on the Southern California coast in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a unique starting point for exploration of Channel Islands National Park.

Travaasa Hana, Maui
The closest lodging to Haleakala National Park, filled with beautiful hikes through bamboo forests, past towering waterfalls and the famous “Pools of Ōheo.”

[Image courtesy of Yellowstone National Park]

Great destinations inspire great authors: hotels to explore during National Book Month


national book month hotels - the stanley hotel stephen king

It’s no secret that the world’s most well known literary figures’ finest works were often inspired through their travels. In honor of National Book Month, why not take a trip to visit a historic destination that also ties in to a literary legend?

Stephen King, Estes Park, Colorado

Master thriller Stephen King was inspired by the surroundings of Estes Park and his stay at the area’s Stanley Hotel. While exploring the Georgian Architecture of the grand hotel, guests can also take advantage of ample wildlife and rugged peaks that surround the area.

The Stanley Hotel, (seen above) listed on the National Register of Historic Places, shows the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining on a continuous loop for guests in rooms. We’re going to go with … terrifying. Stephen King’s idea for The Shining came while he was staying in room 217, and it was during a time when the hotel was nearly empty as it was closing for an extended time during off-season. We’d perhaps not suggest doing this over Halloween weekend – unless that’s your idea of fun.

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Jack Kerouac, Denver, Colorado

Denver is one of three biggest geographic influencers in Jack Kerouac’s work On the Road. Kerouac’s companion Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty in the novel) grew up in Denver, and in the book the two spent considerable time around Larimer Street, and the downtown Denver area.

Visit The Brown Palace Hotel, one of the remaining historic hotel properties where travelers and can stay and follow in the steps of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Other spots to visit include My Brother’s Bar, one of Kerouac’s favorite Denver hangouts, and Charlie Brown’s, another frequent Kerouac, Cassady and Ginsberg haunt.

Washington Irving, Westchester (Hudson Valley), New York

In 1835, after spending much of his adult life living out of a suitcase, Washington Irving returned to the area made famous by his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and purchased a small Dutch farmhouse beside the Hudson River.

The Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center sits adjacent to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Tarrytown, which was the home of the noted mid-nineteenth century author. Sunnyside is a favorite destination for guests of the Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center. It’s also where Irving spent the last decade of his life devoted to what he considered his greatest triumph: a five-volume biography of George Washington.

Mark Twain, Lake Tahoe, California

Mark Twain famously depicted the Lake Tahoe area in his book Roughing It. A quote from the book describes the Tahoe area: “At last the lake burst upon us – a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft three thousand feet higher still!”

The Resort at Squaw Creek – Tahoe is the perfect spot to experience Lake Tahoe as Mark Twain envisioned – albeit in a slightly less ‘rough’ setting. The Resort at Squaw Creek is also conveniently located near the recently opened Mark Twain Cultural Center in Incline Village at Lake Tahoe.

Dorothy Parker, New York City

Author Dorothy Parker’s famed “Round Table” met at The Algonquin Hotel. She patronized New York City landmark for several years, beginning in 1919. In addition to hosting a number of famous authors for literary discussions and events, the hotel also holds the claim of being the founding site of The New Yorker magazine.

If you’re still keen to explore, hop down to the Hotel Chelsea (closed as of August 1), to marvel at the famed facade that housed Sir Arthur Clarke while he wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and was also the place where Dylan Thomas was staying when he passed away in 1953.

The spooky Stanley Hotel celebrates the 30th anniversary of ‘The Shining’

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
Everyone knows Stephen King’s The Shining as a terrifying tale of isolation and horror, and Kubrick’s epic interpretation featuring creepy twins and the freakiest Jack Nicholson moments of all time (so far), but did you know that the novel which inspired the film was actually based on The Stanley Hotel overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park (above)? This legendary Colorado hotel, located about an hour from Denver, was built in 1909 and openly boasts the presence of “otherworldly residents.”

“Flora Stanley, the first owner’s long-deceased wife, can still be seen and heard, late at night, either tinkling the piano keys in the music room or wandering around the lobby. Plus, the entire fourth floor (once the servants’ quarters) teems with strange after-dark commotion: if you stay in room 418, you might hear children playing outside your door, but find nary a soul in the hallway. For the ultimate scare (or inspiration), stay in room 217 — where [Stephen] King himself laid his head.”

Room 217 at The Stanley HotelThe Shining was released 30 years ago, and to celebrate, you can take a Historic Ghost Tour at The Stanley Hotel for $15 per person. You’ll visit the hotel’s most haunted places (like room 217, right), hear tales of actual sightings and the connection to The Shining, and take a tour of the hotel’s spooky underground tunnel (reservations required, call 970-577-4110).

For the more adventurous thrill-seekers, the hotel also employs a professional paranormal investigation staff, and for $50 you can join them on a five-hour ghost hunt using all the equipment you see the pros use on TV: K2 meters, cell sensors, real time EVP recorders, a spirit box and a laser grid. Now that’s a Halloween plan.

Rates for those brave enough to stay at The Stanley Hotel start at $199 through October 31, then drop to $99 per night for the off-season.

Let us know if you find out what was up with that bear suit.