AAA Consumer Survey: On Eve Of Centennial, National Parks Set To Remain Top 2017 Attraction For Travelers

California Parks Feature Variety Of AAA Diamond-Rated Hotels

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The most Americans in recent years are heading to national parks in recognition of the U.S. National Park Service’s 100th anniversary on Aug. 25. Visitation to the national parks reached an all-time high in 2015, with more than 307 million visitors, according to the National Park Service, and travelers can expect the parks to remain busy in the year ahead. According to a recent AAA survey, 79 percent of Americans say they are as likely (42 percent) or more likely (37 percent) to visit a national park in the next 12 months, building on the momentum of this year’s centennial celebrations.

 

“The demand for national parks is off the charts this year, and it’s exciting to see that Americans are poised to take even more national park vacations in the years to come,” said Bryan Shilling, managing director of AAA Travel Products and Services. “In times of global uncertainty, many people are turning to domestic vacations and the wide variety of national parks offer something for every traveler to discover.”

 

Eighty-five percent of Americans have visited at least one national park, and a majority say the national parks are a “must-see” vacation destination (73 percent). National parks are growing in popularity among younger generations, with nearly half of Millennials (46 percent) citing that they are more likely to visit a national park in the next year, outpacing both Generation X and Baby Boomers.

 

“It’s not surprising to see that younger generations are particularly interested in visiting national parks,” added Shilling. “Travel is part of Millennials’ DNA, and they consistently seek experiential travel opportunities, a major draw for national park visitors.”

 

According to the National Park Service, the most visited national parks in 2015 were Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain. AAA’s survey revealed the national parks that top most Americans’ bucket lists for future travels include Yellowstone (33 percent), Yosemite (17 percent) and Grand Canyon (12 percent).

 

Americans feel the best times to visit the national parks are during the spring (35 percent), fall (33 percent) and summer (27 percent). Travelers planning trips to national parks for the remainder of 2016 can enjoy a discount on select dates in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. All sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.

 

Results from the AAA survey reveal additional details about Americans’ national park vacation preferences:

 

  • The vast majority (91 percent) of visitors to national parks drive to their destination. The remainder choose to fly (18 percent), ride on trains or buses (10 percent each) or take a cruise or boat (7 percent).

 

  • The majority of Americans (66 percent) typically stay in a hotel, motel or lodge when visiting a national park. Camping (41 percent), vacation rentals or cabins (38 percent), staying with friends and family (33 percent) and bed and breakfasts (27 percent) are also popular accommodation options.

 

  • Visitors’ favorite national park activities include walking or hiking on park trails (53 percent) and sightseeing (35 percent).

 

To evaluate national park travel intentions, AAA contracted with a national research company to perform a telephone survey of 1,012 adults living in the continental United States. Survey results are an accurate representation of the total continental U.S. population with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The survey was conducted June 23-26, 2016.

 

AAA offers travelers a variety of tools and resources to plan a national park vacation. Featuring one-of-a-kind national park itineraries, AAA Vacations is a collection of specially designed cruises, guided tours and independent vacations offering unique, engaging travel experiences. TripTik Travel Planner on AAA.com and the mapping section of the AAA Mobile app include nearly 200 Travel Guides and Drive Trips -- many featuring national parks -- to help travelers plan the perfect road trip either from their PC or on their phone. Both tools help travelers map complete travel routes, locate the lowest gas prices, identify exclusive member discounts, and find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants and more. For more information, visit AAA.com/Travel.

 

Auto Club members can also visit any local branch to obtain a special Centennial Commemorative Edition map of Yosemite National Park, and a special National Parks “mini map” for kids with interactive games and puzzles for the family road trip. 

 

AAA Diamond Rated Lodgings that are located inside California national parks include:

Death Valley National Park

The Inn at Furnace Creek       

4 Diamonds

Baths formed by natural springs are featured on the grounds of this imposing Mission-style inn made of stone and adobe with spectacular panoramic desert and mountain views from decks and the pool.

The Ranch at Furnace Creek  

3 Diamonds

This property is perfectly located for desert fun. It offers mountain and desert views as well as on-site golf, hiking trails, a western museum, pool, playground and horseback riding.

Stovepipe Wells Village         

2 Diamonds

Located just west of the sand dunes in the middle of the desert, this property offers guests a Western town feel with basic accommodations and a warm spring-fed outside pool.

Kings Canyon National Park

John Muir Lodge

at Grant Grove Village               

2 Diamonds

Enjoy hiking and the natural landscape at this remote location in the national forest. After a day of exploring relax in your mountain themed room with HD TV and a welcoming comfortable bed.

Sequoia National Park

Wuksachi Village & Lodge       

3 Diamonds

Situated in the Sequoia National Park, this mountain lodge offers many hiking and walking trails. Hop onto the free shuttle and enjoy a carefree park tour. All rooms offer mountain or treetop views.

Yosemite National Park

The Majestic Yosemite Hotel         4 Diamonds

(formerly the Ahwahnee)

Along with gorgeous park views, this hotel has impressive public areas. A vast great room fills up in the evenings with those wanting to socialize or just take in the hotel's workmanship and artistry. Well-appointed and comfortable guest rooms provide a feel for the indigenous beginnings and his­torical aspect of the park. Due to the historic nature of the property (circa 1927), hotel rooms are a bit small. Reservations should be made far in advance. As a guest, consider taking the historic hotel tour provided several times a week by hotel staff.

Yosemite Valley Lodge                 3 Diamonds

This property, on the valley floor, has spectacular views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. It has a wide selection of well-appointed rooms. Have dinner at the Mountain Room Restaurant and enjoy amazing views through the floor to ceiling windows.

The Redwoods                         In Yosemite                          2 Diamonds  

Inside the southern gate of Yosemite National Park, enjoy comfortably appointed and spacious mountain vacation homes, each with a large deck and grill. Some offer a jetted tub. Choose from basic to more luxurious cabin homes. These individually owned homes with varied decor are per­fect for business retreats, family vacations or reunions. Some offer wireless internet.