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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

President's Day Weekend Getaway on the Cheap

By February 10, 2014

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Arches National ParkNeed a last-minute idea for a cheap President's Day getaway? Introduce your kids to one of America's most beautiful and beloved destinations.

Entry is free all weekend long at our national parks, national forests and national wildlife refuges. With well over 400 properties run by the National Park Service, it's likely that you live within driving distance of several wonderful sites offering free admission.

It's particularly fitting  to take the kids to a national park. Consider these nuggets of presidential trivia:

  • In August 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his radio address from Two Medicine Chalet in Glacier National Park. This was FDR's first visit to Glacier, and its gorgeous scenery prompted him to say that he wished he could stay for the rest of the summer.
  • President Gerald Ford was already familiar with Yellowstone National Park when he visited in 1976; he had been a 23-year-old National Park Service ranger in 1936.
  • Bill Clinton visited the Grand Canyon in 2000 and Yellowstone in 1995. President Clinton stayed in the Mary Colter Suite of the Grand Canyon's El Tovar and had lunch at Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn. President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton also took a stroll around Old Faithful Geyser.
  • President Barack Obama visited both Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks with his family in August 2009.
  • Long before he became president, actor Ronald Reagan visited Death Valley in 1948 when it was still a national monument. Death Valley was designated a national park 1994.
  • Calvin Coolidge was pivotal in granting funding for Mount Rushmore. In 1927, he visited Custer State Park in South Dakota's Black Hills, not far from the site where sculptor Gutzon Borglum planned to carve the giant faces of Mount Rushmore. Borglum hired a plane to fly over the lodge where Coolidge was staying and dropped a wreath from the plane with an invitation for Coolidge to attend a dedication ceremony for the mountain. Coolidge not only agreed to attend but following the ceremony, he promised federal funding for the project.

Photo: courtesy of the National Park Service at NPS.gov. Trivia facts: courtesy of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates the lodges and dining rooms in many U.S. national and state parks. It's a go-to resource for booking any national-park stay.

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