Tomorrow marks the start of National Parks Week and to celebrate the National Park Service has waived all entry fees from April 21-29. That means that more than 100 parks that typically require visitors to pay at the gate will have free access for the next nine days.
America’s national parks include some of the most spectacular outdoor environments on the planet and Parks Week was created to remind us of the value of those wild places. With that in mind, the NPS has scheduled Volunteer Day for tomorrow when a host of park improvement projects will take place across the country. Other special events scheduled for the week ahead include celebrations of Earth Day on Sunday and Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 28. Check specific park schedules for events in your area.
Spring is always a great time to visit the national parks as the warm weather means the return of leaves to the trees and wildflowers in full bloom. In Yellowstone, visitors are likely to catch a glimpse of newborn bear cubs and bison calves while the incomparable Cherry Blossoms make a visit to the National Mall – an unforgettable experience. In the Great Smokey Mountains, the wildflower pilgrimage is underway and in the Grand Canyon, spring is the perfect time for a rim-to-rim hike. There are more than 397 national parks and monuments in the US system and each of them has its own unique spring feel.
To find the closest national park to you, click here. And if you aren’t able to visit during National Parks Week, the next fee-free day comes on June 9 in celebration of Get Outdoors Day.
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.
Today is National Public Lands Day, which has been set aside to celebrate service and recreation on public lands across the U.S. In recognition of the day, there are a number of volunteer projects taking place throughout the country to help protect and clean up our public spaces and ensure that they remain a viable natural resource that we can all enjoy well into the future.
Some of the projects that are being conducted today include trail and bridge building, trash removal, tree planting, and much much more. With more than 150,000 volunteers expected to take part at over 2000 different sites across the nation, National Public Lands Day is one of the largest volunteer efforts in the U.S. Last year it is estimated that the volunteers removed more than 900,000 pounds of trash, built and maintained over 1300 miles of trail, and planted more than 100,000 trees. Impressive numbers to say the least.
Additionally, the National Park Service has declared today a “fee free” day in conjunction with NPLD. More than 100 parks and monuments will have free admission today in celebration of the event. Such iconic parks as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Acadia are all waiving their entry fees for visitors. To see a complete list of other parks that are also free click here.
Here in the U.S. we are fortunate enough to have some of the most spectacular landscapes fall into the category of “public lands.” Whether you’re one of the volunteers helping to preserve those places or simply headed out to appreciate them, today is an excellent day to reflect on those wild spaces. To find volunteer opportunities in your area go to the NPLD website.
Next weekend, August 14-15, is the third, and final, fee free weekend in America’s national parks for 2010. For those two days, more than 100 of the parks will open their gates to the public at no cost, giving visitors a chance to experience “America’s best idea” for themselves.
The complete list of parks that will be waiving their entry fees can be found by clicking here. That list includes such spectacular icons as Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Acadia, as well as lesser known, but no less amazing, parks like Big Bend, the Dry Tortugas, and Crater Lake. All told, more than 40 states are represented on the list, which means there is a national park or monument that will be free to visit next weekend near just about everyone in the U.S.
The fee free weekends have been very popular that past few years, and crowds in the parks will no doubt be high. But if you can’t make it out to your favorite national park on the 14th or 15th, never fear, as there are still two more fee free days to come in 2010. On Saturday, Sept. 25th, the parks will be free in celebration of Public Lands Day and then once again on Thursday, Nov. 11th, in honor of Veteran’s Day.
With summer quickly coming to a close, take advantage of this last fee free weekend of the year for some outdoor fun and adventure.
[Photo credit: National Park Service]