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September 28, 2003|Jane Engle; Vani Rangachar

Repairs at canyon halt mule rides

Day and overnight mule trips at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona have been suspended while the park performs maintenance work on the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails. Park officials said they expected the popular rides to resume in about six months.

The trails will remain open to hikers during the maintenance, as will Phantom Ranch, the park's overnight facility inside the canyon.

Park spokeswoman Dawn O'Sickey said monsoon rains this year after several years of drought had eroded soil around wooden steps and other areas. The work will be funded by about $1 million in fees that concessionaires pay to the park service, she said.

The rides were suspended on a week's notice, affecting about 2,600 riders who had reservations over the six-month period, said Jon Streit, executive director of operations at the South Rim for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the concessionaire that handles the reservations. Some customers decided to hike the trails instead; others chose not to go at all and received refunds, he said.

One benefit of the project is that space has opened up at Phantom Ranch, which gets booked months in advance. For information, call (888) 297-2757 or visit


United to launch

low-cost carrier

based in Denver

Southern California fliers, already served by many Southwest Airlines and JetBlue flights, will soon have another discount option.

United Airlines in February plans to launch what it calls a low-cost operation that will have its hub in Denver. Its initial destinations will include Ontario, Calif., as well as Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix, Reno and Tampa. Tickets will go on sale in November.

United, which runs mainline and United Express service from Denver, its second largest hub, said the new service would offer in-flight food and pre-assigned seats. Its customers will earn United frequent-flier miles.

United is not the first major airline to begin a low-cost carrier. Delta Airlines in April launched Song, which focuses on the South and East but also flies between LAX and Florida.


Fire shuts hiking,

biking path in

British Columbia

A popular 5 1/2-mile section of the Kettle Valley Railway, a former Canadian Pacific railroad line converted into a hiking and biking path in southern British Columbia, has been closed after a wildfire.

The fire, in and near Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park near Kelowna, was ignited Aug. 16 by lightning. It destroyed or damaged 14 of 18 trestles in nearby Myra Canyon, destroyed 234 homes and caused the evacuation of 30,000 people. The fire was declared 100% contained as of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday, although the park remained closed.

The railway, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1910, was part of the new Trans Canada Trail, an 11,000-mile system of recreational pathways connecting the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Repairs to the trail, by some estimates, may cost $7.5 million to $22 million. A steering committee has been formed to study the feasibility of rebuilding the trestles and creating a trail to bypass them.

Vani Rangachar



Winter flights

across the ocean

Traveling to Europe after Nov. 1 can save you lots of money. But you may want to act soon because many deals must be booked by the end of September. Typical of the low prices is Go-today .com's "London Jan.-Feb. Supersale."

For prices starting at $529 per person, double occupancy, you get round-trip airfare between Los Angeles and London, six nights' hotel (including taxes and service charges) and daily continental breakfast. Airport taxes, about $100 per person, are extra. The deal is good, subject to availability, for travel Jan. 12 to Feb. 23. At the Travel section's deadline Tuesday, you had to book by Sept. 29, but there was a chance it would be extended.

Visit (click on "Europe," then look under "Top Deals") or telephone (425) 487-9632. (There is a $20 service fee for phone booking.)



Guide to inns

in Pennsylvania

The "Reading and Berks County Bed & Breakfast Guide" is a pamphlet describing 25 inns, their facilities and services, with photos, in the scenic Pennsylvania Dutch country. You'll need to call the B&Bs for their rates. (800) 443-6610.

-- Compiled by

Jane Engle

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