Thank God summer is coming. Even though many places enjoyed milder than normal weather for at least part of the winter, summer is almost always a welcome season. As you wait for summer to finally arrive this year, you can start the warm season off with a free visit to your local national park.
The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years in 2016. To celebrate this milestone, the Park Service is waiving park entrance fees to encourage people to explore a national park or national monument. It’s not often that you can take a mini-vacation for only the price of gas, but you can during National Park Week, April 16-24, 2016.
There are a number of special events planned for National Park Week, just in case you need more encouragement than the free admission.
Despite the cozy “park” name, America’s national parks offer an amazing variety of landscapes and experiences. National parks and monuments range from the postage stamp-sized Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania to the 13.2 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The geography of America’s national parks includes forests, mountains, deserts, grasslands and everything in between. No matter what kind of scenery or climate you like, you are sure to be able to discover a national park that will inspire.
The National Park Service is responsible for managing America’s national monuments and national parks. More than 400 national parks and monuments are managed by the park service. While the park service was established 100 years ago in 1916, the first national park was actually established in 1872. Yellowstone National Park was the nation’s first national park.
Each year more than 275 million people visit national monuments and parks. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to manage so many parks and monuments. The park service employs more than 20,000 people, and relies on the help of more than 220,000 volunteers!
Free admission is a good deal, but most parks charge only $20 or less per car–and admission is usually good for seven days. Like visiting national parks? An annual pass is only $80 and is good for admission at every national park in the country.
Check out FindYourPark to learn more about events during National Park Week.