Explore a National Park This Week — For Free!

Wendy Redal April 19, 2011 0

It’s National Park Week in the USA. At a moment when the federal budget is as strained as it’s ever been, our parks are nonetheless open free of charge to all comers from April 16-24. It’s a perfect opportunity to discover a new destination or get reacquainted with an old favorite.

Snowy peaks of the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. Photo: National Park Service

Snowy peaks of the Continental Divide, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. Photo: National Park Service

This year’s theme is “Healthy Parks, Healthy People,” and parks are surely a great locale in which to get outside and get some exercise, whether it’s a walk across a historic battlefield, or a hard-core hike or climb.

Thank goodness we’ve acquired 84 million acres of national parklands over the past century and a half or so. Given the current state of our collective coffers, we’re not likely to be preserving any vast new tracts any time soon. But there are nearly 400 national parks to choose from currently, including some pretty enormous swaths of wilderness for serious exploration, such as Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, at more than 13 million acres alone.

All kinds of special activities are on deck for National Park Week, from ranger-led full moon hikes in Bryce Canyon to a celebration of John Muir’s birthday on April 21 in the redwood forest named for him just outside San Francisco. Check out the full listing of Park Week events, as well as some national park offerings to celebrate Earth Day, which falls during this time frame.

Thor's Hammer at sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo: National Park Service

Thor’s Hammer at sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo: National Park Service

Though admission may be free this week, our parks are in great need of financial support. Anyone who’s spent time in a park in recent years can see the result of federal budget cuts on services and maintenance. When you join the National Park Foundation, you can be a part of preserving our parks heritage for generations to come. To celebrate Park Week, NPF board member Jay Kislak is offering matching gifts to $50,000. Click here to donate or get more details.

You can also keep up to date with the National Park Foundation on Facebook.

Here’s to enjoying the natural wilds right here at home!

Wendy

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