Select Traveler

MAY-JUN 2017

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46 M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 D O N ' T S E E N A T I O N A L I magine two options: exploring Yellowstone National Park's 3,000 square miles of incomparable beauty with a three-hour drive-by, or a three-day tour with a slew of options including close encounters with wildlife, luxury camping and kayaking to a hidden geyser. e first op- tion allows for a few photos and a chance to quickly move to the next item on the itinerary. But the second allows a more immer- sive experience, for a lasting impact on the group. National parks have long sold well for many affinity travel programs, though the touring styles have differed. Some tours still focus on flying past as many natural wonders as possible on a tour, which leaves little time to stop and soak in the scenery. A tour of a park might even be a day long; but with little variety be- yond shuttling guests from one view point to another, it might fail to engage participants. Instead of following the CliffsNotes version of touring a na- tional park, you could, without sacrificing novelty, find or create tours that stay longer at one park. Your group could develop a love for a particular national park, not through a list of must- sees but by incorporating the park into a variety of engaging ac- tivities. W A K I N G A N D S L E E P I N G What better way to fully experience Glacier National Park than by waking to a view of a glacial lake surrounded by the Rocky Mountains? e park's Swiss-chalet-styled Many Gla- cier Hotel proves that groups can embrace both wilderness and comfort. Many national parks offer similar accommodations that become selling points in themselves. You can also opt for outside-the-box accommodations near many national parks, such as luxury camping with Far and Away Adventure into Yellowstone National Park. By seeking tours with these scenic accommodations, you can offer your groups more time in the parks and less time shuttling to and from the park. Groups can also benefit from accommodations that allow individuals in the group some autonomy, such as Zion Lodge, which connects guests to the park's shuttle. is setup makes it easy to incorporate free time into the itinerary. Groups unable to stay overnight at a park property can ex- tend their time in the park with meals. For an immersive culi- nary experience, look for cuisine authentic to the area and, if possible, with a landscape to admire over dinner. H A N D S - O N S C E N E R Y Whether you plan your own trips or browse premade itiner- aries, you should always try to offer national park trips with in- teresting ways to experience the scenery. Astronomy programs, boat rides and hot-air balloons jump off the page on an itiner- ary. Group members that might not want to plan guided activities on their own could welcome a way to explore Arches National Park by hot-air balloon instead of the standard tour. ese ac- tivities make your tour more tempting, as well as engage with the scenery in a physical way that can prove more memorable. A trip to the Grand Canyon becomes an even better story when coupled with a mule ride down the canyon trail. Denali National Park can similarly come alive when groups book a dog- sled ride. For a twist on a typical national park trip, travel planners can opt for an educational tour. From natural history to litera- ture, intriguing topics relevant to America's national parks prove easy to find. "On one of our trips to Alaska, a professor talked about Jack London and the gold rush," said Cary Allyn, di- rector of the Vanderbilt Travel Program. "She had wonder- ful talks about why Jack London found Alaska so appeal- ing. We've also had lectures about wolves, flora and fauna, and Native Americans that lived there. BY ELIZA MYERS marketing Y O U R P R O G R A M

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