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Feb 25th
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Oct. 20

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Oct. 20

This week: San Francisco’s refurbished Lands End overlook and trailhead, Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort’s golfing package, and rumors are not true that the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is closing

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San Francisco's Lands End Overlook, Trailhead Opens

Lands End, San Francisco's historic place of steam trains, recreation, and scenic beauty, has unveiled its newly rehabilitated Merrie Way overlook, trailhead, and parking area to the public.

With its wild and rocky cliffs, wind-sculpted cypress tress, and dramatic ocean vistas, Lands End is a familiar San Francisco landmark with a fascinating past-and one of National Park Service's most treasured places.
"The restoration and enhancement of this rugged edge of San Francisco with its rich history and prime bird habitat ensures that this beautiful park will be enjoyed by generations to come," said Greg Moore, executive director of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Lands End, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is San Francisco's wildest and rockiest coast, a place strewn with shipwrecks and rife with landslides.

The wave- and wind-carved headlands west of the Golden Gate connect two popular landmarks: the Cliff House and the Palace of the Legion of Honor. The Spanish named Lands End's westernmost promontory Point Lobos, so-called for the many lobos marinos (sea wolves, or sea lions as they're known today) that once hauled up on the rocks offshore.

The rocks are now roosts for two dark bird species, cormorants and oystercatchers, among others. Trails at Lands End offer a cliff-top walk through shadowy cypress, with scenic overlooks, 30-mile views of the coast, and foot access to several shoreline pocket beaches.

"And the work here has only just begun. The Parks Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service and support from our generous donors, members, and volunteers will continue to work on this gorgeous parcel of land with more upgrades to the Coastal Trail and the USS San Francisco Memorial area," Moore added.

Culminating the dramatic first phase of Coastal Trail work and habitat restoration over the last two years at Lands End, visitors to the Merrie Way area can now enjoy:

  • A stunning new ocean overlook above the Sutro Baths, running along the western edge of a parking area with enforced safety and environmental features and offering views of the Sutro Baths, Pacific Ocean, and Cliff House.
  • ADA accessibility for both the new overlook and trailhead above the Sutro Baths.
  • New signs have been added at all the overlooks and along the trails with maps and information about the natural wonders and fascinating history of the area.
  • Benches and bicycle parking around the overlook, and new interpretive kiosks and signage at an adjoining Coastal Trail trailhead providing announcements of programs, walks, and events at Lands End.
  • Beautiful native plants throughout the area and at the trailhead, which will be continued along the Coastal Trail corridor.
  • The new parking lot with 135 car spaces and five bus spots.

"The new trailhead amphitheater space creates a visible and welcoming entrance to the Coastal Trail that provides a gathering space for groups for talks and presentations," said John Skibbe, principal architect on the Lands End restoration project. "Bringing the community together in this stunning location has always been one of our goals."

For more information visit the web site for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area,
www.nps.gov/goga  or the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy www.parksconservancy.org

Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort Offering Golf Package

The Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort in Death Valley National Park is again offering its popular "Stay & Play" golf package this fall and winter. The package is for two people and includes overnight accommodations at either the Furnace Creek Inn or the Furnace Creek Ranch, unlimited golf for one day at the Furnace Creek Golf Course, golf cart and club storage.

From now through Nov. 19, rates start at $223 at the Ranch and $372 at the Inn. The rate is $199 at the Ranch and $332 at the Inn from Nov. 23 through Dec. 18. Beginning Jan. 1 through Feb. 12, the rate begins at $204 at the Ranch and $338 at the Inn.

From Feb. 13 through Apr. 19, 2009, the package price begins at $262 at the Ranch and $438 at the Inn. Rates are for two people based on double occupancy and do not include taxes. Some blackout dates apply.

When booking the Stay & Play package, guests should mention the promo code "GOLF."

At 214 feet below sea level, the Furnace Creek Golf Course is the lowest golf course in the world. The 18-hole Furnace Creek Golf Course measures 6,236 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 69.7 and a slope rating of 117. Although a relatively short course, the low elevation and challenging greens earned it a place on Golf Digest's list of "America's 50 Toughest Courses."

Because the golf ball does not fly as far as it does at sea level and higher elevation courses, players must adjust their club selections as well as their mental approaches. The course also features small greens, strategically placed Palm and Tamarisk trees and water on nine holes. Originally opened in 1931, the course underwent a major renovation in 1997 under the direction of world-renowned golf course architect Perry Dye.

The Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort has been welcoming guests since the 1930s. The AAA Four-Diamond-rated Furnace Creek Inn is open from mid-October through mid-May.

It features 66 rooms, including two suites with a full array of amenities, fine dining, tennis courts and a spring-fed pool. Open year-round, the Furnace Creek Ranch is situated adjacent to the golf course and features 224 rooms in a casual setting, general store, spring-fed swimming pool, tennis courts, horseback riding and the Borax Museum.

For more information about facilities in Death Valley National Park or to make room reservations at in-park lodges, call toll free at (888) 236-7916 or (303) 297-2757 or go to

Northern Nevada Railway Museum in Ely Not Closing

Rumors that the Northern Nevada Railway Museum in Ely, Nevada is closing are not true, said Mark Bassett, museum director.

What is true is that Nevada state money problems may impact the East Ely Railroad Museum, which is owned by the state, and may force its closure.

Both museums are adjacent to each other. The Northern Nevada Railway Museum is by far the larger facility.

Bassett said his museum is in great financial shape and was in no danger of closing.

"The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is vibrant and growing," Bassett wrote in a regular column he has in the Ely Times newspaper. "In the past, it has been through some pretty tough times, yet it has prevailed and grown. It is ironic that now it is the East Ely Depot Museum that is in trouble, the property that we gave away eighteen years ago.

"Back then it appeared that the state that would be stronger of the two organizations. Now the tables have turned. The reality is that the local resources are in a better position to preserve the railroad and make our dreams come true."

All locomotives, rolling stock and equipment are operated by the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Trains will be running as scheduled, including the Haunted Ghost Train, the authentic Polar Express and the Jack Frost train. Steam engine #93 will celebrate her 100th birthday in grand fashion during the Fire & Ice competition the weekend of January 16th-18th, 2009 with engine #40 to follow in June 2010.

"The closure of the East Ely Depot Museum is at this point only a proposal; no firm decisions have been made," Bassett wrote. "The status won't be known until the end of the legislature session in March 2009 unless Governor Gibbons convenes a special session, as he has been reported to be considering. Any legislative session held now, during the worst of economic times, would no doubt result in a great number of budgetary reductions and outright closures throughout Nevada."

For more information about the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and its holiday train programs, visit the web site at