Q&A: Let the family get to know Old Faithful

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered
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The Independent Travel

Q &A

Send your family travel questions to S F Robinson, The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS Or crusoe@independent.co.uk

Send your family travel questions to S F Robinson, The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS Or crusoe@independent.co.uk

Q. Next summer we would like to visit Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in the USA for two to three weeks. Have you any suggestions for places to stay where there would be activities for a 12-year-old and 15-year-old? Also, what is the easiest way to get there from the UK?

Jane Gordon, Bromley

A. Both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are wonderful family holiday destinations, boasting all kind of amazing natural phenomena from the famous geyser Old Faithful in the vast and sprawling Yellowstone, to the towering peaks and mountain glaciers of Grand Teton. There is plenty to occupy you for the entire three weeks in Yellowstone, which covers more than two million acres across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. But with Grand Teton lying just 56 miles south of the former (in Wyoming), it would be a shame not to visit both.

From campsites to country inns, luxury lodges to simple cabins, there is a huge choice of accommodation inside and outside the parks' boundaries. Both are hugely popular in summer, welcoming millions of visitors, so book any accommodation as far in advance as possible.

However, if you are planning to camp, only a handful of sites in Yellowstone allow advance reservations. All reservations and most activities in Yellowstone are co-ordinated by AmFac Parks & Resorts (001 307 344 7311, www.travelyellowstone.com). One of the bookable campsites, the Madison Campground, along the banks Madison River, where bison and elk herds often graze, costs around £17 per night. Grand Teton is a similar story: you can only book ahead for some of the camp-grounds.For information on campgrounds and booking other types of accommodation, contact the Grand Teton Lodge Company (001 307 543 2811, www.gtlc.com).

If log cabins are more your style, the Flagg Ranch Resort (001 307 543 2861, www.flaggranch.com) is ideally situated between both parks. Cabins accommodating four cost around $135 (£95) per night. In Yellowstone, the ever-popular Old Faithful Inn has a self-catering Frontier Cabin sleeping four for $68 (£48) per night next summer. AmFac runs a host of events and ranger-led activities in Yellowstone such as horse riding, cookouts, boat excursions, wagon rides, fishing trips, wildlife safaris and twilight hikes. In Grand Teton, the Grand Teton Lodge Company operates similar activities, and the Teton Science School (001 307 7334765) runs one- to four-day natural history lessons for children and adults. To obtain an information pack for Yellowstone Park write to: National Park Service, Visitor Services Office, PO Box 168, Yellowstone National Park Headquarters, WY 82190 (001 307 344 7381, www.nps.gov/yell). For information on Grand Teton write to: Grand Teton National Park Headquarters, PO Box 170, Moose WY 83012 (001 307 739 3399, www.nps.gov/grte).

The best way to get there from the UK is to fly to Denver and connect with an internal flight to Cody, Wyoming, the closest airport. British Airways (0845 77 333 77, www.britishairways.com) flies from Gatwick direct to Denver. Trailfinders (020-7937 5400, www.trailfinders.co.uk) is currently quoting a fare of £608 return during peak season on United Airlines via Denver to Cody. A tour is another option. North American Holidays (01892 619000, www.northamericanholidays.co.uk) offers a "Wyoming's National Parks" tour. Prices have not yet been released for summer 2002, but expect to pay around £520 per person, which excludes flights and includes, accommodation and car hire.

Q. I would like to take my family away for a weekend break over the coming months, but there's one problem – the dog. He doesn't like being left with strangers, and our son and daughter pine for him when we go away, so we'd like to take him with us. Can you give me some information about pet-friendly accommodation? We are willing to consider both self-catering and hotels.

Jenny Blake, Lincoln

A.Since the advent of pet passports in February 2000, globetrotting dogs no longer have to miss out on holidays abroad. And here at home, there are plenty of places to stay which will welcome pets. Some charge a small fee and will confine you to certain areas of the building, but check with each individual property. However, one stipulation seems to be common to most: hospitality will be extended only to well-behaved pets.

For information on travelling with pets, visit www.travelpets.com, which lists pet-friendly accommodation by region, as does the guidebook, Pets Welcome 2001 (FHG Publications, £5.99). Travel agents will also be able to advise you on pet-friendly accommodation, and most properties will explicitly state their policy on this issue. The National Trust website advertises lots of cottages that welcome dogs who will leave the property in one piece. Deer Park Lodge, in Sherborne, Gloucestershire, is a two-bedroom cottage sleeping four people and up to two dogs. A week in November/December costs £225. Coastguard Cottages at the Needles Headland on the Isle of Wight have sea views and plenty of space for your dog. Prices start at £182 per week in November. Four-legged guests are charged £15 in all National Trust properties. For further details see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cottages/nt.asp. The Cornish Cottage Company (01208 821666, www.corncott.com) also offers accommodation to people and pets.

Some hotels will also welcome peaceful pets. Alistair Sawday's "Special Places to Stay" series has plenty of pet-friendly accommodation in Britain and France (to order call 01275 464891 or visit www.sawdays.co.uk). One example is The Painswick Hotel (01452 812160; www.painswickhotel.com) in Gloucestershire, the place where Laurie Lee drank cider with Rosie. This family-run hotel welcomes pets, and double rooms start at £110 per person. Children sharing a room with their parents can stay for £25 per night.

Alternatively, at www.petplanet.co.uk, you can find details of places such as The Prince Hall Hotel in Dartmoor National Park, Devon (01822 890403, www.princehall.co.uk). Double rooms start a £68.50 per person, on a half-board basis As you can see, it shouldn't be too hard to find a destination that both you and your pet will enjoy.

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