Leaving Las Vegas Glitz for Nature’s Greatest Hits: Three Perfect Road Trips, Three Perfect Parks – Death Valley, Zion and Grand Canyon
Or Visit Them All for a Memorable Vacation Unlike Any Other in the World
DENVER, June 13, 2013 – While few places in the world throw a party quite like Vegas, just a few hours in three different directions travelers will find three natural destinations like no place else on Earth. The quiet desert beauty of Southern California’s Death Valley National Park, the majestic vistas of Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, and the massive red rock walls of Southern Utah’s Zion National Park show in living color the magnificence of the American West.
Visit them one at a time before or after Las Vegas or do them all at once for a vacation with memories that will last a lifetime.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates the Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, Zion Lodge and six facilities in Grand Canyon Village as well as Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Ariz. and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz.
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Death Valley National Park is a simple 2½ hour drive featuring other-worldly scenery on the way and an oasis with a historic Moorish-influenced inn, a family-friendly hotel and the world’s lowest golf course.
How to Get There
It’s tempting to say “Drive to Pahrump and turn left” because the directions from Las Vegas to Furnace Creek Resort are almost that simple.
From downtown Las Vegas drive south on Interstate 15 approximately five miles (eight kilometers). Exit and go west on Nevada State Route 160 for 57 miles (92 kilometers) to the town of Pahrump. Turn left on West Bell Vista Ave. and drive 26 miles (42 kilometers) to Death Valley Junction, Calif. Turn right on California State Route 127 and make a quick left on California State Route 190 and drive 30 (48 kilometers) miles – mostly downhill – to Furnace Creek Resort. The drive takes 2½ hours.
What to Do
Furnace Creek Resort itself offers two spring-fed chemical-free swimming pools at a constant 82 degrees F (28 Celsius), tennis courts, golf course and unlimited opportunity to relax. You can rent bicycles, drive to Scotty’s Castle and tour a former vacation home built on the site of an imaginary gold mine, check out the sand dunes where portions of Star Wars were filmed, hike anywhere you want and visit the lowest point in North America – Badwater Basin at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level.
Death Valley National Park is a tremendous place for stargazers and was recently recognized as such by the International Dark Sky Association. The National Park Service (NPS) offers guided stargazing tours, and the Furnace Creek Resort is the perfect base for this activity.
Where to Eat
The Inn at Furnace Creek – open mid-October through mid-May – provides fine dining with magnificent sweeping views of the valley and the Panamint Mountains. Enjoy daily afternoon tea or Sunday Brunch that offers everything from the finest smoked salmon to a delectable selection of pastries. For dinner reservations, call (760) 786-3385.
The Ranch at Furnace Creek has two dining options with the Wrangler Buffet featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Reservations are not taken. The 49′er Café offers family dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Where to Stay
The Inn at Furnace Creek opened in 1927 with 12 guest rooms, a dining room and lobby area. Rooms were $10 per night and included meals. Over the years, additions were constructed and improvements made until the Inn reached 66 rooms in 1935. Since 1982 the hotel has received the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Award, and it is also part of Historic Hotels of America. The AAA award recognizes the quality of the facilities and the level of service that Inn guests have come to appreciate over the years. The Inn is closed during the summer.
One mile down the road from the Inn is the Ranch at Furnace Creek. This complex was originally built as a closer-to-nature, family-friendly contrast to the upscale Inn with a distinctly Old West feel. It is today comprised of 224 guest rooms, two restaurants, a saloon, general store, golf course and museum dedicated to showcasing borax, the mineral that put the region on the map. Originally called the Greenland Ranch, the name was changed in 1933.
To make reservations, call toll free at 1-800-236-7916 or 1-303-297-2757 or go to www.furnacecreekresort.com.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
As one of the world’s premier destinations, the Grand Canyon attracts visitors from every continent and country. Its awe-inspiring views are complemented by tremendous hiking and historic structures that tell the story of the canyon’s geologies as well as the area’s native peoples.
Xanterra has been operating hotels, restaurants, gift shops and activities at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for more than 100 years.
How to Get There
From Las Vegas go south on U.S. Route 93 for 96 miles (155 kilometers) to Kingman, Ariz. and merge onto Interstate 40 east and continue 116 miles (187 kilometers) to Williams, Ariz.
NOTE: In Williams you may stop at Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) and spend the night in the GCR Hotel and catch the train the next morning at 9:30 for the trip to Grand Canyon Village. Overnight packages allow visitors to spend one or two nights at the Grand Canyon before departing the canyon daily at 3:30 p.m. and returning to Williams on the train.
If you decide to drive all the way to the Grand Canyon, exit in Williams and take Arizona Route 64 north 56 miles (90 kilometers) to Grand Canyon Village. Total driving time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Village is approximately 4½ hours.
What to Do
Exploring the park can be easy and relaxing or incredibly strenuous and challenging. Some recommendations are to hike the Rim Trail, bike the Greenway Trail, ride the park’s free shuttle buses operating in and around the South Rim Village, take a motorcoach to Desert View and climb the Watchtower, check out the History Room in the Bright Angel Lodge or take a walking tour of the various historic buildings located throughout the village.
Where to Eat
The lodges offer a range of dining options with El Tovar’s Dining Room serving upscale breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended for dinner. The Arizona Room in the Bright Angel Lodge is open for dinner only and does not accept reservations. The Bright Angel Restaurant serves all three meals and is popular with families. Maswik and Yavapai Lodges operate cafeterias and are open all day.
Where to Stay
Xanterra operates six lodging operations in Grand Canyon Village, Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz. just outside the entrance to the park. In-park operation include the famed El Tovar, 78-room hotel fashioned after European hunting lodges and constructed in 1905; Kachina and Thunderbird Lodges, identical lodges featuring a total of 104 rooms; Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins overlooking the rim of the canyon and featuring 37 rooms and 50 cabins; Maswik Lodge, a 278-room facility located a short walk from the South Rim at the southwest end of Grand Canyon Village; and Yavapai Lodge, the largest lodging complex in Grand Canyon National Park with 358 rooms within walking distance of the rim.
To reserve rooms inside the park, go to www.grandcanyonlodges.com or call toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States. To reserve Train and accommodations packages at Grand Canyon Railway, go to www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724). For reservations at The Grand Hotel, go to www.grandcanyongrandhotel.com or call toll-free 1-888-634-7263 or 1-928-638-3333.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
The name “Zion” means a place of peace and refuge. As a sanctuary with more than 146,000 acres of cliffs, canyons, diverse plant and animal life and uninterrupted beauty, Zion is well-named. Its massive sandstone walls – some as high as 3,800 feet – and striking cliffs and rocks that form Zion Canyon and the box-shaped Kolob Canyons, with sheer, 1,500-foot walls offer the perfect opportunity for serenity and reflection.
How to Get There
From Las Vegas go north on Interstate 15 for approximately 130 miles (210 kilometers). Exit the interstate highway and drive east on Utah State Route 9 approximately 33 miles (53 kilometers) to the town of Springdale, Utah. This drive should take you around 2½ hours. From mid-March until early November, only registered guests of Zion Lodge may drive Zion Canyon to the lodge. Other guests must park their vehicles at the Zion Visitor Center or in the town of Springdale and proceed into the park on a free shuttle provided by the National Park Service.
What to Do
Zion offers some of the finest hiking trails in the world. The more adventurous will make the 2.5-mile hike to Angels Landing. This hike is a combination of beauty and sheer drop offs with whimsical switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles thrown in. The last half mile is narrow with chains in some places for hikers to hold on to. The hike climbs 1,488 feet.
Several easier hikes are available as well as bicycle rentals and horseback riding. The shuttle makes frequent stops up and down the canyon allowing for varied views without a tremendous amount of physical effort.
Where to Eat
The Red Rock Grill in the main lodge building is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The décor is a combination of wood and stone, much like Zion Canyon itself. With its large windows overlooking the floor of the canyon and the soaring stone walls, the views compete with the entrees such as steaks, Alaska Salmon and vegetarian dishes.
The Castle Dome Cafe, a snack bar adjacent to the lodge, offers patio seating for up to 100 people. The café serves a variety of snack bar-type items such as coffee, espresso, and cinnamon buns in the morning and burgers, hot dogs and french fries throughout the day. A separate window to the patio services ice cream.
Where to Stay
Picturesque Zion Lodge is situated along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Originally on the site was a camp of wood-framed tents that opened to tourists in 1915. In 1925, famed architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed Zion Lodge for the Union Pacific Railroad. The lodge’s Western Cabins were constructed in the late 1920s.
Reservations may be booked online at www.zionlodge.com or by calling 1-303-29-PARKS (1-303-297-2757) or toll-free within the United States at 1-888-29-PARKS (1-888-297-2757)