Austin-Lehman Adventures Shares Advice for Planning 2010 Visits
“National Park Vacations are going to be huge in 2010,” says Dan Austin, ALA’s co-founder and director. “Our pre-bookings are way up which mirror’s USA Today’s recent report that overall attendance at National Parks in 2009 is up five percent over last year. As experts in national park adventures we are positioned well to take full advantage of the increased interest and desire.”
According to National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey G. Olson, “parks could see more than 288 million visitors for 2009, topping the previous records 1987 and 1999.” Ken Burns’ 6-part “America’s Best Idea” that debuted on PBS Sept. 27 is expected to help keep interest high.
Austin-Lehman Adventures, voted “World’s Best Tour Operator” in 2009 by the readers of Travel + Leisure, announces its 2010 tour line-up of 15 small group adult and family itineraries visiting 10 of America’s most iconic National Parks. Included is a new trip to Glacier National Park that celebrates its centennial in 2010.
Says Austin, “We hope the film inspires people to take a National Park vacation. But it‘s a well documented fact that most park visitors never get more than 100 yards from their car or tour bus. That’s where ALA’s insider’s knowledge on where to go and what to do will make it possible for guests to get up close and personal with each of the parks we visit.”
With nearly two decades of National Park guiding experience, ALA’s senior guide Matty Kirkland knows where to go to experience the parks in their most undisturbed, pristine state. He offers his insider’s advice on five off-the-tourist-map places to explore.
1) Yellowstone – The Bechler-Falls River Basin in the southwest corner offers some of the most beautiful waterfalls plus therapeutic soaking in Mr Bubbles hot spring as the ground shakes underneath.
2) Grand Teton – The new Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve is a 1,106-acre refuge within the park on the southern end of Phelps Lake. The sights once reserved for a legendary family are now open to the public by accessing an eight-mile network of meadow and forested trails.
3) Glacier – This is the only place in the continental U.S. that still has all of the predators that were present when the Europeans first arrived in North America. The Coal Creek area is so remote few marked trails exist, yielding a true wilderness experience.
4) Zion – Grab a bike and pedal Kolob Terrace Road slicing through the middle of the park between Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons, dropping 4,400 feet in 18 wild, traffic-free miles.
5) Fisher Towers near Arches – Located 20 miles northeast of Moab, UT, it is one of the least-visited but most scenic landscapes along the Colorado River. An easy 4.4 roundtrip hike reveals strange monoliths grouped together like petrified skyscrapers from some prehistoric city.
ALA destinations include iconic national parks and backcountry regions of North, Central and South America as well as southern Africa and Europe. New trips slated for 2010 include cycling trips in South Dakota’s Black Hills (including a visit to Wind Cave National Park), Utah’s Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Montana’s Glacier National Park, Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and a Greek Isles trip that features multisport adventures such as kayaking, hiking, biking and cultural exploration.