Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Get ready to celebrate National Park Week 2019 from April 20 to 28! Parks across the country will host a variety of special programs and events. To kick off National Park Week, all entrance fees are waived on Saturday, April 20! There are also special days during the week to highlight the different ways you can enjoy your national parks.

Find your park here!

This July will mark 50 years since the historic Apollo 11 mission launched for its journey to the Moon from LC-39 at Kennedy Space Center. Visitors from around the globe will be able to relive the experience at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, through a series of events and celebrations designed to commemorate the anniversaries of the launch, journey and landing.

The Apollo/Saturn V Center, offering an exploration of the Apollo Program from the days leading up to the first launch to the Moon landings that followed, will unveil new upgrades, exhibits and experiences on July 15.

Guests will immerse themselves in the stories and history that describe the moments that changed the future of space exploration forever, all surrounding an actual Saturn V rocket. Enhancements include a closer look at Lunar Module 9, projection mapping on the side of the Saturn V rocket, a 1969 period living room and bar scene that recreate what it was like to watch the Moon landing, a Moon Tree Garden made up of trees grown from seeds that orbited the Moon, a Fisher Space Pen legacy display, a closer look at the Command and Service Module 119, and more. The Apollo/Saturn V Center remains open during these updates, but guests may be subject to Moon dust during the process.

On July 16 at exactly 9:32 a.m., guests will be able to relive the excitement of watching Apollo 11 lift off. A “flashback” event will take visitors through the launch sequence in real time by showcasing original footage at the Banana Creek viewing area, which offers an amazing view of the launch pad that Apollo 11 lifted off from 50 years ago. Before and after, guests will enjoy breakfast and other refreshments, have the chance to experience the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and be enlightened by expert commentary, astronaut interviews and more. 

During a special “Moon Landing” event on July 20, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will honor the Moon landing and the moment that Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon 50 years ago.

After completing the monumental Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins safely splashed back into the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969. As the final anniversary event in the timeline of the mission, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will host “Splashdown” in the Rocket Garden on July 24.  

You can stay up to date on Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, here link.

For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

During National Park Week and all year long, it's a great idea to explore our national treasures.

There's so much to learn and so much to do. This list will help you get started whether you are interested in history, nature, active pursuits, the back country or urban adventures.

This is the day to #findyourpark!

 

  1. Go climbing
  2. Write poetry
  3. Be an urban hiker
  4. Visit a National Heritage Area
  5. Dance
  6. Learn about climate change
  7. Discover a culture new to you
  8. Experience silence
  9. Walk through a doorway of a historic house
  10. Find inspiration in the story of a Civil Rights leader
  11. Go on a ranger-led tour #RangersPointingAtThings
  12. Hug a tree
  13. Make a memory
  14. Earn a Jr. Ranger badge
  15. Relax on the banks of a scenic river
  16. Celebrate innovation
  17. Find life in a desert
  18. Get inspired by a First Lady
  19. Stand on a mountaintop
  20. Bring a kid to a park
  21. Paddle a water trail
  22. Take a photo that matches a historic one #retrogram
  23. Try something new
  24. Channel your inner Bill Nye – become a citizen scientist
  25. Walk a historic main street
  26. Find your park in Spanish #EncuentraTuParque
  27. Explore a cave
  28. Go green
  29. Brush up your national park trivia skills
  30. Scout a park, boys and girls!
  31. Make art in a park
  32. Celebrate Native American heritage
  33. Come sail away
  34. Take a picnic and dine al fresco
  35. Be bear aware
  36. Hit the road
  37. Enlighten yourself at a historic lighthouse
  38. Go biking
  39. Explore Asian American and Pacific Islander culture in America
  40. Feel the sand between your toes
  41. Share your story
  42. Learn about endangered species
  43. Join us
  44. Follow NPS on social media
  45. Follow the footsteps of a woman who made history
  46. Get in the know about H2O
  47. Bee pollinator friendly
  48. Get VIP status
  49. Catch a wave
  50. Immerse yourself in a living history program
  51. Hit record
  52. Get prehistoric
  53. Improve your health – get a park Rx
  54. Use your free active military pass
  55. Get reel – visit a park featured in your favorite movie
  56. Join a trail clean-up
  57. See the sea
  58. Discover a traditional tribal cultural practice
  59. Let Elmo and Murray be your guides
  60. Mail a postcard
  61. Discover history around you
  62. Make new friends
  63. Raft down a river
  64. Pay your respects at a national cemetery
  65. Pick a POTUS
  66. Take a mini-cruise
  67. Plan ahead and prepare
  68. Walk nature's treadmill
  69. Pose for a family photo in a park 
  70. Recognize women who made history
  71. Reflect on our most difficult stories
  72. Stamp your park passport
  73. Ride on a historic carousel
  74. Run
  75. See history from a different perspective
  76. Renew your spirit
  77. See how NPS helps transform your community
  78. Go fish
  79. See the starry, starry night
  80. Make a splash
  81. Share a #tbt park photo
  82. Discover the beauty of our nation's other public lands
  83. Sleep outside
  84. Spread the love – thank a park volunteer
  85. Plan the best field trip ever
  86. Visit our international sisters
  87. Trash your trash
  88. Find a monument and decode history
  89. Travel the Underground Railroad
  90. Use the buddy system!
  91. Visit for free on our 99th birthday
  92. Wander an American battlefield 
  93. Watch wildlife
  94. Take a deep breath
  95. Go wild – experience wilderness
  96. Use a national park lesson plan
  97. Play
  98. Take a sunrise selfie
  99. Celebrate the beauty of our national treasures!

Snack holders for road trips

If you have a road trip on the horizon ( or even a trip to the park) these snack holders are a hit.

It’s time to put a family vacation on the calendar.

Here are five ideas to consider: 

1. Moab, Utah. 

Sample the wonders of red rock country during a four day, multi-sport trip that includes an off-road Hummer Safari through a fantasyland of slick rock and a two day, river rafting adventure with an overnight of pampered beach camping on the banks of the Colorado River. Other nature based itineraries include longer rafting components, jet boating, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, mountain biking, hot air ballooning. rock climbing, canyoneering and horseback riding amid jaw dropping scenery. Many outings are suitable for adventurers as young as five.

Contact: www.MoabAdventurecenter.com.

2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

 Visit the all-inclusive Grand Sirenis Punta Cana Resort for bronze colored beaches amid a beautiful coconut grove. Families will appreciate child-focused pools, and a kids club as well as plenty of non-motorized water sporting fun. The whole family will want to explore the onsite ancient Mayan ruin, the nearby nature trails and to discover the wonder of the world’s second largest coral reef system. Book now through May 2 for up to a  20 percent discount on getaways that take place through October 2019.

Contact: 

www.sirenishotels.com

3. American Prairie Reserve, Montana. 

Using an innovative model, The American Prairie Reserve, a Montana-based non-profit, is in the midst  of stitching together a 3.5 million-acre nature reserve on the plains of Montana. Once completed, the Reserve 

will provide a continuous land area, collaboratively managed for wildlife and recreation. It will be the largest of its kind in the Lower 48 states. 

Meanwhile, a campground and cabins, opening in late spring 2019, provide access to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, wildlife watching and night-sky viewing far from city lights. Prices start at $15 for tent camping per night.  Contact: www.AmericanPrairie.org.

4. Denver, CO. 

If your kids love drawing on your driveway or sidewalk at home you wont want to miss Denver’s 17th Annual Chalk Art Festival. Be there for the free, two-day painting extravaganza during which hundreds of artists contribute their talent to turn the streets of Larimer Square, the Mile High City’s oldest and most historic block, into a colorful outdoor museum. 

The festival takes its inspiration from street painting traditions that originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming asphalt into canvas. June 1-2, 2019. 

Contact: www.larimerarts.orgwww.Denver.org.  

5. Galapagos Islands.  

Cruise through this legendary archipelago aboard a  Smart-Voyager-certified catamaran.

Visit Santa Cruz, Santiago, Isabela, Rabida, and San Cristobal islands while on the lookout for blue footed boobies and   the other unique species of wildlife that inspired Darwin and contributed to science’s understanding of life. 

Explore moon-like lava terrain, walk through lush forests teeming with birdlife, and snorkel in crystal waters where sea lions frolic . Contact: www.Surtrek.com

 

Looking for late-breaking Spring Break ideas?

Check out these deals for a great escape to see the Grand Canyon in a way you might not have imagined. And the timing is right because  the Centennial celebration for one of the world’s most famous natural wonders is underway.

The deal is simple: save 30% off round-trip train fare in conjunction with a one- or two-night package.*

The offer is valid for the rest of 2019, and includes hotel stay, breakfast and dinners, round-trip transportation on the train and entertainment. The savings increase with upgrades in class of train service. Take note, on the first Saturday of each month through October, the train is pulled by a real steam engine so consider that unique option when planning. 

For more information and reservations: www.thetrain.com/offers/centennial-getaway-package or call 1-800-834-8724.

*Centennial Getaway offer valid for 30% off the train portion only of this package when traveling between 2/7/19 – 12/31/19. National park entry fee is not discountable. Package rates are subject to change. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts/promotional offers and other restrictions, including blackout dates, may apply.

More details: 

1-night Itinerary Package 

Day One

  • Arrive at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel in Williams, AZ
  • Dinner at the Fred Harvey Restaurant
  • Stay overnight at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel 

Day Two

  • Breakfast at the Fred Harvey Restaurant
  • Wild West Show before the train departs at the Williams Depot
  • Train travel from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon with entertainment from strolling musicians & personalized service and insider knowledge from your Passenger Service Attendant
  • Free time at the canyon to explore
  • Train travel from the Grand Canyon to Williams, AZ with entertainment from strolling musicians & personalized service and insider knowledge from your Passenger Service Attendant 

2-night Itinerary Package 

Day One

  • Arrive at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel in Williams, AZ
  • Dinner at the Fred Harvey Restaurant
  • Stay overnight at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel 

Day Two

  • Breakfast at the Fred Harvey Restaurant
  • Wild West Show before the train departs at the Williams Depot
  • Train travel from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon with entertainment from strolling musicians & personalized service and insider knowledge from your Passenger Service Attendant
  • Free time at the canyon to explore
  • Train travel from the Grand Canyon to Williams, AZ with entertainment from strolling musicians & personalized service and insider knowledge from your Passenger Service Attendant
  • Dinner at the Fred Harvey Restaurant
  • Stay overnight at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel 

Day Three

  • Breakfast at the Fred Harvey Restaurant

 The Four Seasons Resort Lanai, on the unspoiled Hawaiian island of Lanai, has recently introduced Love Lanai, a series of tours, classes, and authentic culinary events.. Through Love Lanai, guests are able to experience the island’s unique living environment and cultural-historical legacy that spans nearly 1,000 years of Hawaiian residency and a diverse cultural heritage.

Family vacation experiences that are a part of the new collection include a guided sunrise hike of Puupehe; Hoolauna, where guests can learn more about the rich variety of Hawaiian crafts; and Aina Ahiahi Hawaiian Dinner, complete with Hawaiian specialties in an intimate setting, reminiscent of a family dinner in a Lanai home.

Consider family golf options while on the scenic island.

 

It’s easy to allow financial stress, busy schedules and a hectic lifestyle to get in the way of putting dates on the calendar. Here are seven reasons to flag a family vacation as a top priority:

No one is getting any younger.

Not you, the grandparents, or your children. Family life is hectic and it can be difficult to carve out time to even plan a vacation, let alone take one. Yet, before you know it, the kids will be otherwise engaged with school or team responsibilities, summer jobs and college internships. That means the opportunities to get away as a family will diminish even further. So, get planning!

It’s only money.

Sure, budgets are tight. We’re all trying to save more. But a hefty bank account is no substitute for a memory bank brimming with great visuals of your kids running on the beach, hiking in the mountains or climbing in the saddle for the first time. Allocate the dollars you can. Then be on the lookout for deals, promotions or creative low-cost options.

Keep it in the family.

Those busy work and school schedules often mean we seldom see family members about whom we care deeply. Add the geographic spread that is common in most clans and get togethers can be rare. Make this the summer you reconnect with grandparents, that favorite uncle or your long lost cousins. Share stories. Trade photos. Extend the limbs on your family tree.

Get outside.

A visit to a national, state or regional park can provide a bonanza of historical and natural insight and experience. Take to the trails, the streams or the hillside and enjoy nature’s bounty. Camping along the way provides a low cost opportunity to learn outdoor skills and tell tales around the camp fire.

Make it a photo opp.

We tend to remember those moments and events that we capture on film or on a digital memory card. Be deliberate about gathering the kids, friends and relatives together to snap a photo or a few moments of video. Be sure to capture those candid moments too. Then, share and enjoy!

Write it down.

Whether you keep a journal or notes with your photos, scribble a few sentences about your planning process and the trips you take. In time, memory seems to fade the details like dialogue, what people wore, jokes and stories told or memories shared. Save the individual strands of the experience. You’ll be glad you did.

Make a plan together.

Gather your family and get their input on your summer plans. Seek volunteers for researching possible destinations or low cost opportunities. Consider house trades, villa rentals, last minute getaways or just a weekend in a neighboring city. When the time comes, share packing and last minute detail responsibilities. In the end, it is the shared experience that creates the lasting memories and strengthens the bond.

Yes, it’s the best time to go. Plus, the golf and stars and flowers, oh my!  

Ranch at Death Valley In winter, this well known hot spot miraculously morphs into a desert paradise. And when you visit the Oasis at Death Valley —with its AAA Four Diamond Inn at Death Valley and family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley — you’ll discover a place transformed. If people know one thing about Death Valley, they know that it’s hot. Fry an-egg-on-the-pavement hot (although don’t try that, because it makes a mess).

Death Valley is officially the toastiest place on the entire planet, thanks to a scorching day back in 1913 when temperatures reached 134 degrees, the highest ever recorded anywhere on the globe. And with 21 days over 120, this past July in Death Valley was the hottest month all-time at a single location. The second hottest month? The previous July in Death Valley.

So Death Valley comes by its sizzling reputation honestly. But that’s only during summer. In winter, Death Valley miraculously morphs into a desert paradise. And when you visit the Oasis at Death Valley — with its AAA Four Diamond Inn at Death Valley and family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley — you’ll discover a place transformed.

During winter, average temperatures range from the mid-60s to the low 70s with overnight lows frequently dropping into the upper 30s. Those cooler conditions combine with clear, sunny days to make winter the perfect season to get explore Death Valley National Park. When the most of the country is shivering, you can be basking in warm, dry days with endless sun.

Here are a few special ways you can enjoy winter and spring in Death Valley.

Mountain in Death Valley

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park 

Hit the Trail

With even the day’s lowest temperatures hovering around 100 or more, you shouldn’t even think about hiking at lower elevations in Death Valley National Park during summer. But winter weather provides the perfect conditions to follow trails into the park’s canyons and see its incomparable geology.

You’ll find easy-to-reach trailheads near the resort along Badwater Road, including the classic hike into Golden Canyon, just five minutes away. But many visitors miss the much less crowded trek that explores nearby Desolation Canyon. It’s an easy-to-follow cross-country route (just look for the footprints) that leads into a canyon, which gradually narrows and reaches colorful formations similar to the brilliantly hued Artist’s Palette (farther south off Badwater Road along Artist’s Drive).

Stargaze

See stars like you never have before at Death Valley, a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park

Gaze at the Sky

Except at higher elevations, you won’t see any trees at Death Valley. But what you will see is sky — and lots of it.

If you love photography, winter offers optimal shooting conditions. Storms from the Pacific Coast send billowing clouds out over the desert that create an impressive backdrop for pictures of Death Valley’s expanses. The low-angle winter light also helps reveal details in the landscape that harsher sun conditions wash out, and things get especially dramatic when the clouds leave 11,049-foot-high Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park, covered in snow.

After dark, Death Valley boasts some of the best stargazing anywhere in the world. The dry desert air and distance from sources that spew light pollution helped Death Valley earn prestigious designation as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park from the International Dark-Sky Association.

Even if you don’t have high-end optics of your own (although basic binoculars enhance viewing), during events with park rangers and local astronomy associations you can gaze into the universe through high-powered telescopes. For example, the Las Vegas Astronomical Society holds complimentary star parties at the Ranch at Death Valley.

Golf

Golf the lowest elevation golf course in the world at the Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley

Shoot Your Lowest Round Ever (That’s a Guarantee!)

In most of the country, frigid winter weather forces golfers to take a hiatus. After all, a green certainly isn’t green when it’s covered by snow.

But for golfers, winter is prime time in Death Valley.

Many visitors are surprised to discover that Death Valley, the driest spot in North America, actually has a golf course. But thanks to a highly efficient irrigation system, water sourced from nearby natural springs, and tough Bermuda grass that can withstand the area’s weather extremes and salty soil, the Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valleyis a duffer’s delight.

Add to your bragging rights at the world’s lowest elevation golf course, a par-70, 18-hole circuit that’s 214 feet below sea level. As unique as the experience may be, Furnace Creek Golf Course is no mere novelty. A beautifully designed and challenging layout, Furnace Creek earned honors as one of America’s toughest courses from Golf Digest. And don’t expect your drives to carry as far: The heavier, low elevation air means that you’ll surrender distance on your shots.

Inn Pool Sunset

The pools at The Inn and The Ranch are both naturally spring-fed, and consistently 87 degrees year-round

Swim in a Real Oasis

If temperatures in the 30s or 40s hardly sound appealing for a swim, the cool winter nights create ideal conditions for one of the most sublime experiences awaiting guests at both the Inn at Death Valley and the Ranch at Death Valley. Both of these lodging choices have pools filled by natural springs that deliver water that stays in the 80s, even on the chilliest nights. The contrast between the balmy pool and the cold air is positively heavenly. The inn’s historic pool has been beautifully restored, and if you need a little warm-up after a dip, get toasty in front of one of two wood-burning fireplaces along the deck.

A rare “super bloom” event covering large expanse of the desert valley floor with wild flowers, dominated by the golden yellow of desert gold flowers (also known as desert sunflowers or Geraea canescens) in Death Valley National Park in California. The Amargosa mountains rise over the valley in the background.

Ooh and Ahh at Wildflowers

From mid-February to mid-April, when the conditions are right, Death Valley is painted with an explosion of color from a carpet of wildflowers. Golden evening primrose, notch-leaf phacelia, sand verbena, purple mat, gravel ghost, and brown-eyed evening primrose brush the arid landscape in Easter egg colors — especially the expansive fields of desert gold for which Death Valley is famous. To appreciate the diversity of blooms, get out of your car and walk. You’ll be rewarded with a spread of color blanketing the desert floor — perfect for Instagram moments.

How to Explore

The Oasis at Death Valley in Furnace Creek is situated in a lush oasis surrounded by the vast and arid desert of Death Valley National Park — just 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas and 275 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The resort encompasses two hotels — the historic AAA Four Diamond, 66-room Inn at Death Valley and the family-oriented, 224-room Ranch at Death Valley. The entire resort is undergoing a complete renaissance with an extensive renovation to be completed in the fall of 2018. The resort includes natural spring-fed pools, an 18-hole golf course, horse and carriage rides, world-renowned stargazing, and is surrounded by Death Valley National Park’s main attractions. For information and reservations, visit The Oasis at Death Valley or call 800-236-7916. Oh and kids eat free, yep, they do!

Oh and kids eat free, yep, they do!To discover a world of unfogettable experiences available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.

  • Bali has its own language – one of 583 languages and dialects spoken in the Indonesian archipelago. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language; English is widely spoken in Bali’s main tourist areas.

 

  • Bali is home to approximately four million people. The vast majority follows a special version of Hinduism, different to that practiced in India, and witnessing the rituals and ceremonies of daily life is a highlight of visiting the island.

 

  • The island is home to more than 20,000 temples, earning its nickname “the island of a thousand temples” or “the island of the gods.”

 

  • Some temples date back as far as the 9th century; Pura Besakih at Mount Agung is the island’s Mother Temple, the stunning Pura Lempuyang in Karangasem is at the highest elevation and has breathtaking views of Mount Agung, while the cliff-top Pura Uluwatu is touristic with its sunset kecak dance performances and cheeky monkeys. The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, it has its own Resort temple and guests are welcome to take a guided tour of it with Resort Priest Aji Ngurah, or visit the nearby Goa Gong cave temple for a water purification ritual. 

 

  • Bali's central mountains include several peaks over 2,000 metres high (6,500 feet); the highest is Mount Agung (3,031 metres or 9,944 feet), known as the "mother mountain." Adventurous travellers can enjoy panoramic sunrise views across Bali’s mountainous interior with a trek up Mount Batur (1,717 metres or 5,633 feet). 

 

  • Bali’s volcanic landscapes and climate support the highly productive agriculture sector. Spend a Day in the Life of a Balinese Farmer and learn about the UNESCO-listed 9th century subak waterways that connect the island's paddy fields.

 

  • Bali is home to the first sea-floating toll road in the country, stretching across the gulf of Benoa 12.7 kilometres (8 miles) in length, an example of the modern development that blends with Bali’s very traditional lifestyle.

 

  • Three small islands lie to the immediate south east and all are administratively part of Bali: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Great for an extension to your stay on the mainland, or for a day trip especially for excellent snorkelling and diving.
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