ACCOMMODATIONS IN NATIONAL PARKS. AmFac Parks and Resorts manages lodges at some of the most popular national parks in the West. To make reservations at any of the lodges except those in Yellowstone, call 1-303-29-PARKS between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mountain Time. To reserve accommodations in Yellowstone, call 1-307-344-7311. Visit AmFac's Web site at (www.amfac.com). Opening dates for the lodges are:
Bryce Canyon Lodge, open nowMoqui Lodge, Tusayan, Ariz., (near the entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon), open now
Old Faithful Inn, May 1
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins, May 8
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins, May 15
Old Faithful Lodge Cabins, May 15
Grand Canyon Lodge, North Rim, May 15
Grant Village (Yellowstone), May 22
Canyon Lodge and Cabins (Yellowstone), June 5
Lake Lodge Cabins (Yellowstone), June 10
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins (Yellowstone), June 12
- FREE BROCHURE LISTS youth hostels. The 1998 Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels free color brochure, "Hostelling Map of the USA," is available by mailing your name and address to HI-AYH Map Brochure, 733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 840, Washington, DC 20005. The publication lists all 147 hotels in the United States. The organization's Web site is (www.hiayh.org).
- ANCHORAGE VISITORS GUIDE. The 1998 edition is hot off the press. Published by the city's convention and visitors bureau, the guide lists hotels and motels, annual events, outfitters and tour companies and suggests itineraries for day trips. Request it by calling 800-478-1255. There is no charge for the booklet. Or get information from the Web at (www.alaska.
- TRAVELING WITH KIDS. Rand McNally has added new products to its line of travel games and activities for young children. The additions to Rand McNally for Kids include a Vacation Fun Pack that has two books from "My First Backseat Books" series, "See the U.S.A." and "Travel Time!" plus two new activity pads, a sheet of reusable stickers and a box of crayons. They are packed in a kid-size suitcase. The pack retails for $15.
The "My First Backseat Book" series has two new titles. "Alphabet Travels" features animals from A to Z. Each letter is introduced with a coloring page and a spot to place a sticker, followed by an activity page that makes use of the letter.
"Things on the Go!" illustrates many ways to travel, showing kids they can "coast in a kayak," "drift in a parachute," or "bump along in a rickshaw." Each book has 48 pages of games, puzzles and coloring activities plus a page of reusable stickers. The suggested retail price of each book is $3.95. These items are available in toy and bookstores.
Last year, Rand McNally For Kids products that were best sellers include the Trip Tracker, an 80-page travel journal and game-book for ages 8 and up, $18.95; the Best Travel Activity Book Ever!, which has 250 pages of travel activities for ages 6-12, $3.95; Coast-to-Coast Games, an 80-page book with puzzles, games and activities for ages 6-12, $3.95; and Vacation Sticker Passport, a passport-size book with 80 reusable stickers, for ages 3-7, $3.50.
- ADVICE ON TRAVELING WITH KIDS. Editors at Rand McNally have these suggestions on how to make family travel easier.
1. Set clear expectations. You shouldn't have to entertain your kids every minute you're on the road.
2. Let your kids know when you'll be making the next rest stop. Most children cope with the tedium of travel better if they know a break is coming.
3. Ask the kids to help select the toys and games they'll take along.
4. Bring along a mix of new toys and old toys such as puzzles, dolls and action figures.
5. If your kids don't get sick while reading in the car, visit your library or local bookstore for a child's guidebook to your destination.
6. Plan some surprises. Gift-wrap a couple of toys, games or books creating odd shapes. Reward your children with a surprise if they've been especially patient or helpful.
7. Put your children on a budget for souvenirs and spending money. If your children can do the math, let them weigh the pros and cons of spending their money on a stuffed toy vs. a T-shirt.
8. Give your kids a reason to be cooperative. Try it - you may like it. At the beginning of the hour, hand each child four quarters and tell them that anyone who starts or continues a fuss will lose a quarter.
9. Take snacks. Don't let you or your kids go hungry or get thirsty between meals.
10. Keep a supply of postcards and stamps. Let your kids write friends and relatives about the trip.
- UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, SEA WORLD OF CALIFORNIA offer value pass. The two Southern California parks offer a 14-consecutive-day unlimited pass that's good for both parks. Called the Southern California Value Pass, it costs $68.95 for ages 10 and older and $50.95 for kids 3-9.