X is for Xanterra Parks & Resorts
Summer is around the corner and many of you will be packing up your car or boarding a jet plane to visit America’s National Parks. If you’re planning on visiting Crater Lake, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Zion National Parks, you’ll be staying with Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the country’s largest park-management company.
A what? Remember this post, “So You Want to Work in Yellowstone National Park?” A park-management company is basically a private organization with a contract with the National Park Service to manage some sort of operations in a park, ranging from lodging to dining and gift shops to transportation. In addition to national parks, Xanterra runs operations in several Ohio State Parks, Mt. Rushmore, Painted Desert Oasis, a resort in Williamsburg, Va., and Windstar Cruises out of Seattle, Wash. (Hope I didn’t miss a destination!)
I haven’t worked for Xanterra per se, but I worked for the organization when it was TW Recreational Services later purchased by Amfac Parks & Resorts (formerly Fred Harvey) which later became Xanterra.
What’s in a Name?
It’s my understanding Xanterra comes from the merging of “Xanadu”, which is a beautiful place and “terra” which means land. Therefore, Xanterra can mean, “beautiful land” which is appropriate for the company, since they manage operations in some of the most beautiful places not only in the United States but on earth.
Who Puts the Magic in a National Park Vacation?
Not only do visitors travel from all over the world to visit these destinations but employees travel from across the globe to spend the summer in paradise. You probably don’t think much about the lodge front desk clerk handing you a room key, the kid pumping your fuel or the retiree scooping your ice cream but these are the folks who help ensure you have a positively memorable experience in one of America’s crown jewels. They are college students, teachers, retirees and just folks who want to live and work in an national park.
Before you make the trip, I suggest you check out Ken Burns’s documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on DVD or Blu-Ray. It leads you on a historical journey in establishing and protecting our national parks.
2012 Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
The National Park Service is offering fee-free days over the following dates. Visit the National Park Service Website for additional information.
June 9 – Get Outdoors Day
September 29 – National Public Lands Day
November 10-12 – Veterans Day weekend
Are you planning a national park vacation this summer? Do you have a favorite national park?
Images Source: My sister Elizabeth Dugan who was lucky to spend her 10-year-anniversary at the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks this year, along with Sedona and Las Vegas.
FTC Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link; hey! I’m just trying to support my traveling habit…
This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!