Where to Freeze Your Brain During National Ice Cream Month in July; Parks Offer Plenty of Choices

Where to Freeze Your Brain During National Ice Cream Month in July; Parks Offer Plenty of Choices

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DENVER, June 26, 2015 – There’s something about enjoying an ice cream cone in a national or state park that evokes Rockwell-esque images of family, corn on the cob, apple pie and baseball. And Xanterra Parks & Resorts has several ideas on where to enjoy this cold, creamy treat this July during National Ice Cream Month.

“It’s impossible to frown while eating an ice cream cone,” said Betsy O’Rourke, vice president of sales and marketing for Xanterra. “From Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, our guests are smiling ear to ear while enjoying this quintessential American treat in the backdrop of some of our country’s most beautiful places.”

Although variations of what could be called ice cream were documented in China and the Roman Empire, the United States can correctly claim responsibility for popularizing the sweet treat. The individual who played the most prominent role in bringing ice cream to the masses is the same person who authored the Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson developed a recipe for vanilla ice cream and served the dessert to his guests at Monticello at a state dinner while president in 1802.

Fittingly, Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota celebrates Jefferson’s lesser known accomplishment with a special ice cream – called TJ’s Ice Cream – throughout the summer. The recipe for the ice cream is based on Jefferson’s original recipe – with a sustainable twist. TJ’s Ice Cream is made using Madagascar vanilla beans and sourced locally from Pride Dairy of Bottineau, N.D. The bean gives TJ’s ice cream the delicious flavor discovered by Jefferson. TJ’s Ice Cream cones sell for $5.50 for a cup or cake cone and $6.25 for a waffle cone. The only other change made to Jefferson’s original recipe was to use pasteurized eggs instead of raw eggs. This summer, Xanterra is encouraging guests to share their TJ’s Ice Cream experience on Instagram with #jeffersonicecream. Guests can then see their photos displayed on mtrushmorenationalmemorial.com/jeffersonicecream. Since it was introduced in 2013, Xanterra has scooped more than 65,000 servings using some 8,500 gallons of the ice cream.

Bright Angel Fountain in Grand Canyon National Park’s historic Bright Angel Lodge is the source of many summertime smiles. Built as a classic soda shop in 1955, the Fountain retains yesteryear charm while serving some amazingly good ice cream. Nearly 165,000 scoops of it annually, in fact. Xanterra sources its ice cream from Dreyer’s Ice Cream and its cones from Joy Cones in nearby Flagstaff. Bright Angel Lodge is one of the popular stops on the walking tour of historic buildings in Grand Canyon Village, and many visitors can be seen consulting a free walking tour brochure while strolling and enjoying their creamy treats.

At Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in northwest Ohio, ice cream-lovers can enjoy a casual, cool treat at the Bayside Snackshop, located just steps from the indoor pool and with Lake Erie as the backdrop. It’s not unusual for still-soggy young ones to emerge from the pool’s kid-friendly splash garden, order ice cream from the bright, ‘50s-diner-style snack shop, and head outside to enjoy a cone on the lodge’s expansive lawn overlooking the scenic Great Lake.

The world’s first national park is also in on the ice cream action, with a focus on sustainability. Yellowstone National Park Lodges’ Old Faithful Inn serves three-scoop plates of house-made ice cream using cream from Darigold, a Montana-based company. The scoops of Huckleberry, Flathead Cherry and Pine Nut reflect flavors of the region and are made using locally sourced ingredients.

Austin Adventures wows guests on one of its popular Yellowstone tours with a sundae station set up at Storm Point, an easy hike that takes travelers to a viewpoint overlooking Yellowstone Lake. Guests hike a mile to the station, and before making their sundaes, they are offered the opportunity for a polar bear plunge into the 45-degree lake.

There are ice cream highs and lows in Utah’s Zion National Park. Austin Adventures surprises its guests with cold ice cream cones at the top of the park’s famous Angel’s Landing hike, one of the most popular hikes in the national park system and a seriously rugged, high adventure that allows hikers automatic bragging rights upon completion. Austin Adventures guides secretly tote hard-frozen ice cream balls in their packs as they hike to the top of the viewpoint with their guests, and they break out the ice cream just as hikers are celebrating their accomplishment. The unexpected treat prompted one guest to comment: “Ice cream at the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park was over the top. The best ice cream I have ever had.”

Back down on the floor of the canyon, Zion Lodge busily serves ice cream to its guests throughout the summer. Lots of it. In fact, during last year’s National Ice Cream Month, the lodge served 19,601 soft-serve cones at the Castle Dome Cafe and 3,406 hand-dipped cones at Red Rock Grill. The lodge serves sustainably and locally sourced Russell’s Ice Cream. Hands down, vanilla is the favorite flavor.

The Ranch at Furnace Creek in California’s Death Valley National Park, has been home to a date grove since the 1920s.  In honor of National Ice Cream Month, the 49’er Café at the Ranch will serve a Date Shake for the entire month of July. The recipe includes fresh dates from a local date plantation blended with two scoops of Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream and served in a commemorative ice cream “bowl,” a 10oz. cone-shaped ceramic mug complete with the Death Valley logo. Cost is $8.99 and travelers can take the mug home to remind them of their visit to this unique oasis in the desert.

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