From sea to shining sea, the United States has some of the most breath taking national parks and scenic wonderlands. Every national park has very important significance embedded into the landscape and has been passed down for generations now and ones to come.
Whether you prefer to hike Zion (Utah), photograph the wonders of Arches (Utah), wander in the paths of the Anasazi at Aztec Ruins (New Mexico), explore the desert scenery and granite monoliths of Joshua Tree (California), or tour an ancient cave dwelling at Mesa Verde (Colorado) moving outside is good for you and offers a chance to explore these special places.
To encourage Americans to explore America’s natural beauty, rich history, and culture, Secretary of the Department of Interior Ken Salazar announced that more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal lands will waive admission fees on 13 days in 2013.
“Our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands offer every American a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, learn about our nation’s history and culture, and restore our souls and spirits by connecting with the natural beauty and wildness of our land,” Salazar said in a news release.
“By providing free admission, we are putting out an invitation to all Americans to visit and enjoy these extraordinary treasures that belong to all our people.”
Tourism and outdoor recreation are powerful economic engines in communities across the country.
Recreation on federal lands provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy in 2009. Each year, over 280 million national park visitors pump $31 billion into local economies, supporting 258,000 jobs.
“We have a fantastic network of public lands that provides world class recreational opportunities, showcases our nation’s rich and diverse history, and features some of the most incredible scenery around,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
“The fee-free days will give both first time and repeat visitors a good reason to spend time exploring these remarkable places.”
Mark your calendar for these fee-free days in 2012:
January 21: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (participating agencies: National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service)
April 22-26: National Park Week (participating agency: National Park Service)
June 8: Great Outdoors Day (participating agency: U.S. Forest Service)
August 25: National Parks Service Birthday (participating agency: National Park Service)
September 28: National Public Lands Day (participating agencies: National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service)
October 13: National Wildlife Refuge Day (participating agency: Fish & Wildlife Service)
November 9-11: Veterans Day Weekend (participating agencies: National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service)
Entry fees are actually pretty reasonable. According to the NPS website 265 of the 397 national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee.
National Park Service
Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the park service is proud to safeguard these special places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites in America’s 397 national parks.
National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.
—Wallace Stegner, 1983