Latest News, Deals & Savings for Sept. 29

This week: News about Grand Canyon Railway, Grand Canyon Lodging and Thunderbird Lodge at Canyon de Chelly

Saturday, September 27 2008 20:24   Western Travel Buzz
Winter is a great time to travel the West, partly because rates drop substantially on many hotel and trip opportunities. As an example of what's available during off-peak months, here is a sampling of rate savers from Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country's largest park concessioner.

Grand Canyon Railway

Starting Oct. 15, rates for Grand Canyon Railway getaway packages drop by as much as 32 percent. Winter rates are valid through March 14, 2009, based upon double occupancy for adults and do not include taxes or park entrance fee.
Grand Canyon Railway packages feature roundtrip train travel to Grand Canyon National Park, accommodations at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, Ariz. and/or inside the park and meals. Some packages include narrated motorcoach tours at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

"The change in seasons brings a new perspective to both the ride to the Grand Canyon and the canyon itself," said Angela Berrigan, vice president of sales and marketing for the Grand Canyon Railway. "Photographers love the variant light, and the changing colors and snow on the ground make for a dramatic contrast to summertime colors and flora."

Reservations for Grand Canyon Railway Getaway Packages can be made by visiting or calling (800) 843-8724.

Grand Canyon Railway operates daily train service between Williams, Ariz., and the Grand Canyon. The Railway offers five distinct classes of service, as well as money-saving packages featuring the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams.

Overnight stays at the Grand Canyon also can be included in the packages. Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, visit or call (800) 843-8724.

Grand Canyon South Rim Lodges

Xanterra South Rim announced its winter rates and packages at the South Rim for the 2008-2009 winter season, and some rates are as much as 38 percent lower than summer-season fees.

The Winter Value Rate is available at Maswik and Yavapai Lodges, Xanterra's two off-rim locations. The Winter Value Rate is $82 per night plus tax at Maswik South and Yavapai West, and $105 per night plus tax at Maswik North and Yavapai East.

The Winter Value Rate is available from Nov. 30, 2008 through March 5, 2009, excluding Dec. 19, 2008 through Jan. 3, 2009 and Feb. 13 through Feb. 15, 2009. The rates are good for single or double occupancy. The cost for each additional person in the room is $9. Children 16 and under stay at no extra charge. Lodge and room type are subject to availability and seasonal closures. Summer rates at these hotels range from $90 to $170 per night.

The El Tovar Romance Package at the elegant El Tovar Hotel - a national historic landmark - includes one night in a standard queen room, a bottle of California sparkling wine and fruit basket in the room and dinner for two with a bottle of Grand Canyon label wine in the El Tovar Dining Room.

The base package cost is $351 plus tax subject to availability. Guests may upgrade to a deluxe room or suite, based upon availability, for an additional charge. The Romance Package is available Nov. 30, 2008 through Jan. 29, 2009, excluding Dec. 6, 2008, Dec. 19, 2008 through Jan. 3, 2009 and Jan. 8, 2009. When booking the Romance Package online, guests must enter the promo code "ROMANCE."

In addition to discounted room rates at off-rim lodges, it is easier to find available rooms at the four properties on the rim - El Tovar, Bright Angel, Kachina and Thunderbird Lodges - than it is during the summer season.

Xanterra also operates a variety of interpretive motorcoach tours, restaurants, gift shops and mule rides.

Visitors can book their rooms online by visiting or by calling toll-free (888) 297-2757 or (303) 297-2757 from outside the United States. Learn more about the park by visiting

Thunderbird Lodge at Canyon de Chelly

Finally, rates at Thunderbird Lodge in Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona are a real bargain. The 74-room lodge drops its winter-season rates by up to 43 percent off summer rates. The reduced rates are in effect from Nov. 1, 2008 through March 1, 2009.

In addition to reduced rates, guests who stay Saturday, Sunday or Monday nights receive a complimentary continental breakfast, 10 percent off canyon tours and 10 percent off gift shop purchases.

Rates per night are $63 for a single room, $69 for a double, $75 for a triple and $81 for a quad. Suites are also available starting at $94.50 for two people. Rates do not include taxes.

The climate features low humidity and temperatures typically range from 40 to 60 degrees with lows averaging around 20 degrees. While the monument does receive some snow, it is generally no more than a few inches.

Thunderbird Lodge is the only lodging facility in Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The lodge sits on the site of a trading post built in 1896, and its cafeteria-style restaurant is located in the trading post's original building. The Thunderbird Lodge gift shop and rug room offer some of the region's finest examples of Native American jewelry, crafts and Navajo rugs as well as other mementos.

Thunderbird Lodge also offers authorized group tours into Canyon de Chelly in six-wheel-drive touring vehicles operated by experienced and knowledgeable Navajo guides who explain about the canyon, one of the most sacred as well as historically and culturally significant places in the Navajo Nation.

Guests see prime examples of Anasazi ruins, pictographs, petroglyphs and the sites of confrontations between the Navajo and the Spanish, Mexican and American governments.

During the winter, half-day tours leave from Thunderbird Lodge at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and take visitors into the lower halves of both Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto and last 3½ hours.

Guests typically enjoy an open-air ride, but during inclement weather the vehicles can be covered with clear caps engineered by the lodge's maintenance staff. With the exception of hiking the White House Ruin trail, travel in the canyons is permitted only with a park ranger or authorized Navajo guide.

Through March 1, 2009, rates for half-day tours are $40.95 for adults and $31.50 for children 12 and under. During the winter, tours are conducted only if at least six guests participate. For reservations, call 1-928-674-5841 or toll-free at 1-800-679-2473. For more information on Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Thunderbird Lodge, go to


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