Summer is almost over, but there is still so much to explore. Did you know that out of 401 national parks, 268 are free to enter 365 days of the year? However, if you want to see one of the 133 parks, including Mount Rainier in Washington, without paying the nominal entrance fee you are in luck. There are 13 fee free days you can enter all national parks in the United States. You have 2 more chances before years end to check out the wonders of the Olympic National Park (Washington),Crater Lake National Park (Oregon), and Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming), among many, many others.
You can’t say no to free
Not only is your fee waved for only a few days a year, but you now have the perfect excuse to get out and explore. Celebrate National Public Lands Day on September 28th or over Veterans Day Weekend (November 9-11th). Pack your hiking boots or sneakers, get out the door and discover one of the many gorgeous parks America offers its residence and visitors. Tara M. an expat living in Bern, Switzerland said, “I cannot wait to take my girls, and fee free day opens it up to people who may have to pinch their pennies.” If money is tight, but you feel bad about depriving the parks of your hard earned cash, you can always splurge at the gift shop, concession stands or restaurants in the parks. And don’t feel too bad, your U.S. tax dollars go to the parks too.
Reconnect with friends and family
Since cost is not longer an excuse, call up friends you haven’t seen in a few months or grab the family for some quality time together. Pack a picnic and set a course for your nearest national park. For just the price of a tank of gas you could all be climbing rocks, hopping over streams, searching for waterfalls, or having a snowball fight in your shorts before the day is done.
Don’t let the fun end
If you can’t get out this year, have no fear, 2014 guarantees to be a great year to explore as well. Plan your trip over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, National Park Week in April, and the National Park Service’s Birthday in August. Note that this only includes park entrance, not camping fees.
Since there are so many parks and so little time to cover them all, consider investing in the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass so you can enjoy the parks all year round for just $80 (2013 prices). Active military members and their dependents are eligible for a free pass, as well as persons with disabilities. Seniors 62 and older can get a $10 lifetime senior pass.
With 401 national parks waiting for you to discover, what are you waiting for? Get out rain or shine, snow or fog, and see why America is truly the land of the beautiful.