Live out your Twilight fantasies at Olympic National Park

The next installment of the Twilight saga is now just a few days away, and fans are already preparing to catch the latest exploits of those kooky vampires and werewolves on the big screen. To celebrate, the release of Eclipse, the Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park is offering special deals for visitors who want to follow in Edward and Bella’s footsteps, while having a few adventures of their own.

The Twilight Eclipse Package includes one night stay at the lodge with guests staying in a double occupancy log cabin. Visitors will also receive two Twilight water bottles, a Twilight trivia game, and a specially themed Twilight dessert. The package also includes a special map of the Forks area as well, with some of the most important locations from the books highlighted, allowing fans to quickly find and visit the places they’ve only read about in the novels. Some of those places include La Push, home of the Quileute Tribe as well as Bella’s best friend Jacob, the Forks High School and Community Hospital, not to mention the lush forests and Pacific beaches that play a role in the story as well.

This package deal starts at $202 is good through October 30th. When booking online, use promo code: KLTWEC10 and start planning your vampire, or werewolf, hunting expedition soon.

[Photo credit: Summit Entertainment]

It’s the last dam summer at Olympic National Park

There are big changes in store for Olympic National Park, which is located in the Olympic Peninnorthwest corner of Washington state on the Olympic Peninsula. The park is an interesting combination of Pacific Coast beaches, lush rain forests, and snow capped mountains, with some of the best scenery in the Pacific Northwest. But part of the landscape there is changing dramatically, and by next year it will be altered forever.

In 2011, as part of a plan to remove the Elhwa River Dam, Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell will both be drained, allowing the river to flow freely once again. This is a wonderful ecological move, as it will open up more than 70 miles worth of waterways to let the native salmon swim free, but it will also have an impact on the paddlers who have enjoy kayaking and canoeing through the Elhwa Valley. By next summer, that will no longer be an option.

To celebrate this historic event, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and Lake Crescent Lodge are offering the Last Dam Summer Package, which ranges in price from $206-$229, and includes lodging, a box lunch for each person for each day of your stay, water bottles, a waterfall trail map, and informational material about the impact of the dam removal. To book the package, simply use the promo code: OLYLDS10 when booking your stay.

As if getting the opportunity to paddle two lakes that won’t exist next year wasn’t enough of an incentive to visit Olympic, there is also a new trail to explore as well. The recently established Olympic Waterfalls Trail is sure to be a hit with visitors who want to explore all the stunning waterfalls that the park is famous for. The new trail offers a variety of ways to access these natural wonders, including paved, wheelchair accessible trails, scenic forest roads, and traditional hiking trails. Several of the falls can only be reached by kayak or boat as well, which adds even more of an adventurous element to the trip.

To take advantage of the new trail, four of the park’s lodges, which include Lake Quinault Lodge and Kalaloch Lodge, in addition to the two mentioned above, are offering the Olympic Waterfall Trail Package. This option includes all of the same amenities, at the same rates, as the Last Dam Summer Package, but allows visitors to coordinate a multi-night stay across multiple lodges that fall along their route. To take advantage of this deal, use promo code: OLYWFT10.

Both of these deals are good through October 30th. For more information check out

[Photo credit: National Park Service]

Select national park resorts offer deals on lodging and tours for National Parks Week

National Parks Week is set to take place from April 17 through the 25, and to celebrate, Aramark, an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service, has announced several great deals on lodging, tours, and retail items.

Several of the lodges that fall under Aramark management are offering two-for-one deals. For example, the visitors to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia can book a nights stay at Skyland Resort for $125 and receive the next nights stay absolutely free. The offer runs from April 18-29, with the deal extending to consecutive nights only. Similarly, visitors to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado can stay for $99 on their first night, and get their second consecutive night free as well. This offer is good from April 22-30.

Visitors to Olympic National Park have multiple choices in their place to stay, with three lodges running specials Book an evening in the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Kalaloch Lodge or Lake Crescent Lodge for $157 and you’ll receive the second night free. The offer is good in the first two resorts from April 17-25, and in the Lake Crescent Lodge from May 7-31, but must be booked by April 25.

Finally, visitors to the Yellowstone National Park can stay in the Togwotee Mountain Lodge, located 44 miles from the South Entrance, for just $99 for the first night, and receive the second consecutive night free. The booking must be made by April 25, but is valid for stays between May 21 and June 28.

For more great deals from Aramark, including special pricing on tours, t-shirts and more, click here. Most of the special offers are good through National Park Week, when entry to every park in the system will also be free.

U.S. national parks were popular destinations in 2009

2009 was a banner year for America’s National Park System, which remained popular with travelers, both foreign and domestic, despite the sluggish economy. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced that the parks experienced 10 million more visitors last year than they did in 2008, which represented a 3.9 percent increase.

The Park Service says that more 285 million people payed a visit to one of the parks or monuments that are under their care in 2009, which made it the fifth busiest year in the history of the system. The record for most visits ever was set back in 1987 when 287.2 million people spent time in the national parks.

The news of the upswing in visitors is seen as a good thing on a number of different levels. It meant that Americans and foreign visitors were still viewing the national parks as quality destinations despite challenging economic conditions around the globe. It was also seen as a good sign for Americans becoming more active, with many travelers hiking the trails and enjoying other outdoor activities.

The list of the top ten most visited parks remains generally the same year in and year out. In 2009 that list, along with the number of visitors, was as follows:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 9,491,437 visitors
Grand Canyon National Park, 4,348,068
Yosemite National Park, 3,737,472
Yellowstone National Park, 3,295,187
Olympic National Park, 3,276,459
Rocky Mountain National Park, 2,822,325
Zion National Park, 2,735,402
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 2,589,288
Grand Teton National Park, 2,580,081
Acadia National Park, 2,227,698

Hopefully this is a trend that will continue. The parks have been called “America’s best idea”, and visiting any one of the top destinations will only reinforce that. So? What is your favorite national park, and which ones are you planning on visiting this year?

Celebrate Earth Day with a volunteer vacation!

2010 will mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day. Originally conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson, the event was meant to remind us to stop and think about the amazing, yet fragile, planet on which we live, and possibly consider the ways that we can work to protect the environment around us. Today, that message is as important and relevant as ever, and Earth Day is celebrated across the globe in a number of cultures and countries.

This year, Earth Day falls on Thursday, April 22nd, and to celebrate Lake Quinault Lodge and Kalaloch Lodge, both located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, are offering environmentally conscious travelers a chance to do their part to protect the environment while on a volunteer vacation. Visitors can join the Washington CoastSavers on Saturday, April 17th, as they work to clean up the beaches at Kalaloch, and then celebrate with a barbeque afterwards. A week later, on Saturday April 24th, volunteers have the opportunity to join the park service in restoring Kestner Homestead, a family cabin that was built back in 1862 and is now part of Olympic National Park.
To show their appreciation for the efforts of the volunteers, the two lodges are offering an online only discount for those who choose to stay with them. These Earth Day Volunteer Vacation deals allow guests who particpate in the beach clean up to stay in a Seacrest room at Kalaloch Lodge for just $99 or a log cabin for $109. The special rate is available for a single day between April 15-18, and includes entry to the CoastSavers barbeque as well. Volunteers who elect to stay at the Lake Quinault Lodge can get a one night stay on April 23, in either a Lakeside or Main Lodge room beginning at just $109. That rate includes two box lunches to take to Olympic National Park the following day.

This is the third year that the resorts have offered these volunteer vacation deals, and to further show their commitment to the environment, they’ll throw in a $15 gift certificate for anyone that arrives in or on a “green” vehicle. The gift certificates are redeemable in the lodges’ stores, restaurants, and giftshops, and is another reward for guests looking to further reduce their carbon footprint.

To take advantage of one of these deals simply book online at or