Q. My wife and I would love to hike along the Appalachian Trail for a week or so. The only time that we can do this is from December through April. Do you have any suggestions on who we could contact for information, lodgings, etc.
A. Winter isn't the most popular hiking time, but the trail is open all year.
To find out which sections are likely to be best for hikes in winter conditions, contact the Appalachian Trail Conference, Box 807, National Park Service, Harpers Ferry, W. Va. 25425, phone (304) 535-6331.
Amy Adams at the headquarters office explained that the trail is a 2,144-mile-long national park that stretches through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.
Basic information is available free from the Harpers Ferry office, along with a list of low-cost publications that are more specific about things like accommodations and back-country permits.
"There are rough three-sided shelters along the trail about every 10 miles," Adams said. There also are a couple of overnight places with food and beds, such as the one atop Mount LeConte on the trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail goes through some towns with motels, inns or campgrounds, she said, and other towns are nearby.
The information packet includes a National Park Service folder with a map of the entire trail; a booklet called Walking the Appalachian Trail Step by Step; and a listing of helpful publications and videos.
Q. We are planning a trip to Las Vegas. Could you please tell us of places to write to obtain the best tour packages, and also any bargain guides to the city? We are also interested in a two-day trip to the Grand Canyon. Has Las Vegas come around to being more of a family oriented vacation destination, or is it still primarily for adults only?
A. Get a copy of "What's On in Las Vegas." It's available free all over the city or by mail by sending $4 to What's On Magazine, 4425 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, Nev. 89103.
It is published every two weeks, but much of the information carries over, such as casino-hotels' toll-free numbers, discount coupons for Grand Canyon and Lake Mead/Hoover Dam tours, and so on. This guide contains prices at buffets and brunches, where to make sports bets, procedures for Las Vegas weddings, costs for the big shows, and advertisements for bargain hotel rooms. Using casino hotels' 800 numbers, you can shop by phone for the best deals.
"What's On" has two pages of activities for children. Vegas has indeed become child-friendly, with plenty for kids to do. There is a carnival midway separate from the gambling area at Circus Circus with games and entertainment; Excalibur has kid-type movies, games, arcades and several rides; MGM Grand has a small theme park with 12 major rides; Boomtown Hotel has a gold-panning attraction; and most major casinos have video arcades. …