Tips and Tricks

Discovering Night Sky Programs at U.S. National Parks

"Most of us, generally, envision our visits to national and state parks occurring during daytime hours. However, most parks are accessible long after the sun goes down, creating a unique opportunity to be in park environs— desert, wilderness, and mountains—under dark and vast skies." Click to read more about contributor Courtney Johnson's exploration of the night sky programs in our national parks.

Find the Best Food In Montana Yellowstone Country

Our friends at Food Travelist have compiled a diverse selection of eateries in the Yellowstone region, from lodges, ranches, and resorts to craft breweries, ice cream parlors, and ideal spots for a tasty lunch. Their post celebrates the best of the region (including local delicacies, like huckleberry ice cream, and perfectly seasoned and prepared game) and we are glad to share it with you! For the nights you are not planning to indulge in s'mores around the campfire, consider these venues...and let us know what you think!

Camping with a Dog: The Best Tips for Fun and Safety

Shared public lands, or what you might commonly refer to as national parks, forests, and conservation areas, provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature with your pooch. If you’re bringing your pet along, however, there are several things to prepare for, including safe bedding and having a plan in place for injuries -- not to mention finding a park that is four-paw friendly. Find out more in Aurora's guest post by clicking here!

One Way Car Rentals are Back!

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Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano Mission, the rental cars must return to Florida for the winter. To help out this yearly migration, Hertz is once again offering one of the greatest travel deals in the USA, the $5 a day one way car rental.

A one way car rentals usually runs around $80-$150 a day, so this is a great deal if you're interested in road-tripping from one of select cities on the east coast down to select cities in Florida, for a fraction of what this journey usually costs. This is a phenomenal opportunity to drive the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and to see Shenandoah National Park during peak fall foliage season, without doubling back to your starting point, as the Parkway ends less than a 7 hour drive from both the Jacksonville and Tallahassee airports.

Florida airports in which you will have to drop off the car:

Miami International Airport (MIA) - Miami, FL
Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) - Tallahassee, FL
Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) - Jacksonville, FL
Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Ft. Myers Southwest International Airport (RSW) – Ft. Myers, FL
Orlando International Airport (MCO) – Orlando, FL
Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) – West Palm Beach, FL
Sarasota Bradenton Airport (SRQ) – Sarasota, FL
Tampa International Airport (TPA) – Tampa, FL

Dates for Pick Up and Pickup Locations:

09/04/2017 – 12/10/2017

Albany International Airport (ALB) – Albany, NY
Syracuse Hancock Airport (SYR) – Syracuse, NY
Yeager Airport (CRW) – Charleston, WV
Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) – Buffalo, NY
Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) – Rochester, NY

10/10/2017 – 12/10/2017

Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) - Washington DC
Islip MacArthur Airport (ISP) – Islip, NY
Portland International Jetport(PWM) - Portland, ME
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) – Philadelphia, PA
T F Green Airport (PVD) – Providence, RI
Norfolk Airport Counter (ORF) – Norfolk, VA
Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) – Baltimore, MD
Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – Boston, MA
Bradley International Airport (BDL) – Hartford, CT
Burlington Airport (BTV) – Burlington, VT
Dulles International Airport (IAD) – Dulles, VA
New York City JFK Airport (JFK) – New York City, NY
New York City LaGuardia Airport (LGA) – New York City, NY
Newark International Airport (EWR) – Newark, NJ
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) – Pittsburgh, PA
Richmond International Airport (RIC) – Richmond, VA
Westchester County Airport (HPN) – White Plains, NY
Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) - Roanoke, VA

10/23/2017 – 12/10/2017
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) – Raleigh, NC
Douglas International Airport - (CLT) Charlotte, NC

Official Hertz page is here

"Back to School" Shopping Portal Bonuses

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Four of the major airline shopping portals are running what has become a yearly “back to school” promotion. It’s a great time to get some easy bonus miles, by shopping now for items that you’ve planned to purchase for fall. Use these four portals for your everyday online shopping. If you’re interested in learning more about shopping portals, take a look at our quick guide here. We use them as a way to get extra miles buying things we’d otherwise purchase.

Here’s a quick run what’s available on the portals, with most of the deals good until August 18th, except for Delta's bonus which ends on August 3. See below for the details on each airline's offering.

Southwest

American

United

Delta

You could end up with 8,000 bonus miles if you maxed out the promos, these are on top of the miles you are already earning through the portal and also on top of the miles from your credit card. It's a triple dip!

Banner image, Weir Farm National Historic Site, by Derek Wright.

The 2017 America the Beautiful Annual Pass is Now Available

The 2017 America the Beautiful passes are now available and feature an amazing photo of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area by Yang Lu. He was the Grand Prize winner of the 2015 Share the Experience Photo Contest, which, aside from cash prizes and gear, gets your photo on the Annual Pass! Hopefully, the Department of the Interior will run the competition again this year. Stay tuned, the photo contest usually kicks off in early May.

Also of importance this year, as has been reported, the cost of the lifetime senior pass is going up from $10 to $80 this year! If you are 62 or older perhaps buy now, as the price increase has not yet been implemented. Or buy two, as after several years of use it's not too hard to misplace or lose it on a trip — as we've sadly found out with our annual pass.

Canada's National Parks are Free in 2017

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday next year, and Parks Canada is hosting quite a celebration. All are invited to check out Canada's majestic national parks for FREE! Yes, the Canadian government is waiving admissions throughout 2017 to all national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. A uniform entry fee for each park is typically $9.80 per person or $19.60 per family. Each adult must purchase his or her own Discovery Pass at $67.70 per person, or $136.40 for a family pass. (Luckily, Parks Canada considers a family as up to 7 people in a car.)

It’s going to be a popular year for Parks Canada — the website to order the Discovery Pass crashed hours after it launched at the start of December. Fear not, though, as beginning on January 1, passes will also be available at park entry gates and visitor centers, as well as at Parks Canada partners like Mountain Equipment Co-op. And, there’s no limit in terms of the number of passes Parks Canada will hand out. You can order more than one pass and there are no shipping fees or credit card information required. A pass can be shipped to anywhere in the world. Click here to order.

We also think this is very exciting: "Beginning in 2018, Parks Canada will ensure that admission for children under 18 is free, and provide any adult who has become a Canadian citizen in the previous 12 months one year's free admission.”

We’re absolutely planning a trip (or two!) to celebrate Canada and Parks Canada this year and thinking of Banff, Forillon, Glacier, Jasper, Terra Nova and Rouge Urban National Parks, how about you?

Banner photo from Vermilion Lake at Banff National Park, by Dylan Emmons.

Every Kid in a Park Annual Pass Offer for Grade 4 Students

And so, another school year begins.  

There is a wonderful opportunity that we want to be sure it on your radar, if there is a fourth grade student in your family! As of September 1st, all students entering fourth grade have access to their own Every Kid in a Park pass at www.everykidinapark.gov. The “Every Kid in a Park” promotion is offered by the Department of the Interior and the White House, and brings with it tremendous value, providing free access to fee based federal lands for the student as well as the family.

Free entry is not only to all National Parks Service units, but other fee-based federal lands like national forests, national wildlife refuges, and land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, for example Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas or Chincoteague Island in Virginia. The pass is good for a full year, from the date of issue to Aug 31, 2017.  

This pass is nearly identical in benefits to the America the Beautiful pass (which is $80/year) and exists to encourage the entire family to tour our varied publics lands. These passes eliminate the cost of NPS sites like Yellowstone, Zion and Grand Canyon, where entry is between $25 and $30/car. If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person, the pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free. If your group visits a site that charges vehicle entrance fees, the pass admits all children under 16 and all adults in one passenger vehicle.

At www.everykidinapark.gov, children take a short fun quiz, and the pass is available for printout. The paper pass can later be exchanged at NPS fee sites for a plastic version, based on availability.

We are thrilled that the Department of Interior is nurturing the next generation’s enthusiasm for our protected lands, and as always appreciative of the great value of the annual passes; we bought our America the Beautiful pass in February of this year, and by April it had paid for itself park fees. As of August, six month later, it had essentially tripled its value! And we have more parks on our list for this year…how about you?