The national parks are fee-free this weekend

It's a fee-free weekend in the national parks!To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the National Park Service will host its first fee-free weekend of 2012 this week. Starting Saturday, January 14 and running through Monday, January 16, the entry fee for more than 397 national parks and monuments across the U.S. will be waived completely.

A number of the parks and monuments will be honoring the civil rights activist with special ceremonies and events throughout the weekend. The newly opened MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C., for instance, will have rangers on hand to discuss Dr. King’s pivotal role in seeking equality for all races, while the MLK National Historic Site in Georgia will host a special program on Sunday that examines King’s legacy.

Of course, there are always a host of other activities to do in the parks as well and the winter months often bring unique opportunities to these scenic places. I’d recommend snowshoeing in Yellowstone, hiking in Yosemite, or even paddling the Everglades. After all, without an entrance fee, there’s no excuse not to go.

If you can’t make it to your favorite park this weekend, never fear. The Park Service has a number of other free days scheduled for the year, with your next opportunity coming on April 21-29 in celebration of National Park Week.

For a complete list of the national parks that will be fee-free this weekend, click here.