Travel Projects Get a Tax-Funded Boost

Federal cash will change how we travel, a bit like the way FDR's plans reshaped cities and parks during the Great Depression. Here's a look forward and back.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado
Mother Nature gave this spot 15 miles west of Denver a head start at being the perfect concert setting. A pair of 300-foot-high red sandstone monoliths provide not only ideal acoustics but a dramatic, one-of-a-kind backdrop to boot. Installing seating and a stage, workers built a legendary venue that's hosted everyone from The Beatles to U2. The eclectic lineup for summer 2009 includes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Flight of the Conchords, and an '80s extravaganza featuring REO Speedwagon and Styx. Tip: Bring a seat cushion to avoid a sore backside in the bleachers (720/865-2494, redrocksonline.com).

Timberline Lodge, Oregon
The 70-room Timberline Lodge sits 6,000 feet above sea level—which sounds high until you realize it's only midway up the slope of 11,245-foot Mount Hood. Thanks to this elevation, the mountain resort has North America's longest ski season, attracting snowboarders all summer long with terrain parks and half-pipes. Many visitors make the hour drive from Portland to take in the views here—especially from the lodge's Ram's Head Bar, where huge panoramic windows look out onto the iconic, snow-covered peak. If you feel vaguely creeped out when approaching the lodge, there's reason: The exterior shows up in the terrifying Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel (800/547-1406, timberlinelodge.com, doubles with bunk beds from $115).

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Depression-era workers carved out more than 28,000 miles of trails in state and national parks. Grand Canyon projects alone put over a 1,000 CCC enrollees to work. Among the paths they either built from scratch or improved in and around the Grand Canyon are the Clear Creek, Ribbon Falls, Upper Ribbon Falls, Kaibab, Bright Angel, and Colorado River trails. Today, parks advocates and groups such as the Rails- to- Trails Conservancy are hoping stimulus money will fund another round of improvements to trails and recreation areas and create as many as 50,000 jobs (928/638-7888, nps.gov/grca).

Bethpage State Park Golf Course, New York
In mid-June, the U.S. Open returns to Bethpage's Black Course, one of five public courses constructed as WPA projects at this state park. Since the Black Course hosted the 2002 U.S. Open, getting to play on the ultra-challenging course is akin to scoring Bruce Springsteen tickets; die-hard duffers camp in line overnight for first-come, first-served tee times. (Select tee times can also be reserved over the phone a few days in advance, but that's hit or miss.) Golfers pay $100 weekdays, $120 weekends for the privilege of playing, though New York State residents get a half-price discount. Those with a high handicap might want to play 18 holes at one of the other courses, which start at $36 (516/249-0707, nysparks.state.ny.us/golf).


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