The Recovery Package: Cash Infusion
Will President Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill save the economy? Who knows. But at least it will give our parks an overdue sprucing up. The bill set aside $920 million for the National Park Service, to be allotted by September 2010. Most of the money will go to badly needed repair of roads and facilities like ranger stations.
THE INSIDER: Ray O'Neil, backcountry supervisor and nine-year park veteran
THE BOTTLENECK: On a busy summer day, upwards of 20,000 people cram into shuttle buses on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
THE BACK DOOR: "By hiking the west rim of Zion Canyon, you'll leave 99 percent of the tourists behind," says O'Neil. Take a shuttle ($35 per person; zionadventures.com) to Lava Point, start of the 15-mile West Rim Trail. Spend a night five miles in at Potato
THE LAUNCH PAD: The Desert Pearl Inn (doubles from $150; desertpearl.com), at the entrance to Zion in Springdale, Utah, rests in the shadow of the park's sandstone spires.