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Travel Deals Dominate in 'Dark' January

Vacation rentals: Even during ski season, vacation rentals are pretty easy to come by in January. On last-minute vacation rental site PackLate, property owners in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Mammoth Lakes, Calif., have their properties listed for January rental at 40% to 50% less than what they fetch during the rest of the season.

"January is the best time to go skiing," says Stephen Daimler, spokesman for PackLate. "The conditions are great, there are fewer crowds and average vacation rental prices across our 13 ski resorts are 28% lower during the month of January compared to the holidays."

A two-bedroom condo in Steamboat Springs that sleeps six, has a gas fireplace and a balcony with a view of Emerald Mountain and is just blocks from the Howelsen Ski Area is available for much of January for as little as $126 a night. Meanwhile, a two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo with a wood-burning stove, private hot tub and sleeping space for eight can be had in January for roughly $160 a night. If a pre-Sundance stay in Park City is a must, however, a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom condo with a gas fireplace, hot tub and jetted bathtub is still available for $240 a night.

National parks: This is, by far, the coldest January travel option, but it's perhaps the most cost effective.

At Yosemite National Park in California, for example, visitors bold enough to stay in the park's unheated cabin tents Jan. 7-8 or Jan. 21-22 will pay based on celsius temparature. Tents that usually go for $39 a night will be $10 if it's only 10 degrees celsius that night (50 degrees Farenheit). If the temps drop below freezing, however, that night's stay is free. For those willing to part with a little extra not to lose their extremities or have to bring seven blankets as carry-on items, heated tents are available for $49 a night, with that price dropping to $25 if it falls below freezing.

A much warmer, if less private, deal awaits at Yellowstone National Park in Montana, where rooms are available at its Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge for $49 a night from Jan. 4 through March. While ideal for folks who like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating, it's a little less so who for those who like to relieve themselves without disturbance. The deal applies only to rooms with shared bathrooms.

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