Guest Author - Candyce H. Stapen
Budget Winter Vacations: Parks
By Candyce H. Stapen
State and national parks provide that rarest of getaways---a resort vacation with great views at budget rates, especially during winter’s low season. Take advantage of the good deals to hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski and enjoy the outdoors at the year’s lowest prices. Here are five great places.
Ohio: Mohican Lodge & Conference Center, Perrysville, is a scenic retreat surrounded by 5,000 acres of state forest. You can simply enjoy the peaceful winter woods, take day trips through Ohio’s Amish country, try some laid-back skiing at Clear Fork and Snow Trails ski resorts or visit Malabar Farm State Park. The barn is open for tours and guides lead craft sessions. Back at Mohican, end your day with an swim at the indoor pool. Through April 30, 2011, lodge rooms start at $99. Call 800- AT-A-PARK.
Oklahoma: Sequoah State Park & Western Hills Guest Ranch, Hulbert, are situated on the shores of Fort Gibson Lake. In temperate winter weather, the park has horseback riding, golfing and fishing. The scenic park also serves as an inexpensive home base for learning about the state’s Native American heritage. At the Cherokee Heritage Center, 18 miles away, explore the re-created 17th century village and learn about the “Trail of Tears,” the forced 1200-mile march from the east to Oklahoma endured by the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickawa, Creek and Seminole bands 1830-1850. Rooms at the Western Hills Guest Ranch start at $55 in winter. Call 918-772-2545.
Utah: Winter in Zion National Park, Utah, which is about 320-miles or five hours from Salt Lake City, brings relative solitude. Snow laces the park’s towering red rock cliffs and mesas. Cross-country ski at the higher elevations, or hike along the river valley, looking up to admire structures such as the Temple of Sinawava, whose cascading waterfall ices over. In winter rooms at Zion Lodge start at $89 for two, including two breakfasts. Call 303-29-PARKS.
West Virginia: Cacapon State Park sprawls on 6,000 acres minutes from the historic mineral waters of Berkeley Springs where George Washington reputedly enjoyed the healing waters. The town is still known for its therapeutic soaks and its relatively inexpensive massages. At Cacapon, you can savor the trails. Lodge rooms start at about $70. Call 304-258-1022, www.cacaponresort.com and for Berkeley springs information, call 800-447-8797.
California: Snowshoe and cross-country ski past giant redwood trees, some with trunks more than 30-feet wide at Sequoia National Park. In the heart of the park, Wuksachi Lodge offers cross cross-country skiing on groomed and ungroomed trails as well as snowshoeing. In winter, lodge rooms rent from about $90.