Now that it’s cold and chilly, you’ve probably got vacations on the mind. What can you do once the weather warms up? Maybe you’re tired of visiting the beach. Amusement parks like Disneyland and Disney World are just so crowded. Here’s an idea: why not visit a national park?
While not every state has a national park, they’re located all over the country. Whether you live on the West coast, East coast, in the Midwest or in the south, you’re likely to find one in a neighboring state. If not, then a road trip makes a perfect vacation. The National Park Service turned 100 years old in 2016. If you missed out on the birthday of our national treasures, you can celebrate by visiting one for free in 2017.
Most national parks are free every day of the year. However, many are not – 124, to be exact – especially the more popular ones that attract all the tourists. Even when they do charge fees, the prices are pretty reasonable, ranging from $3 to $30.
Buy why pay when you can go for free – and you can, for 10 days in 2017. Mark your calendars and start planning your vacations. Here are the days you can score free admission at any national park in the United States:
January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents' Day
April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
On the dates listed above, entrance fees, transportation entrance fees and commercial tour fees are all waived. However, there will still be fees involved for camping, tours and concessions, so bring your wallet.
Each park is gorgeous and unique in its own way, so being able to visit any of them would be a breath-taking experience. Not sure where to go or even what constitutes a national park? Here are some cool parks to visit.
Grand Canyon National Park: This Arizona park is probably the most famous. You can travel from the North Rim to the South Rim or tour it by helicopter or mule.
Hot Springs National Park: More than 1 million tourists clamor to this top tourist attraction in Arkansas every year. There, you can bathe in the healing waters of the hot springs.
Haleakala National Park: This park comes complete with endangered species, numerous hiking trails and an active volcano. Plus, it’s in Hawaii – that in itself is a good enough reason to go.
Olympic National Park: This Washington park is the fifth most-visited in the country. It is home to the only temperature rain forest in the lower 48 states, plus it has active tide pools.
Rocky Mountains National Park: This Colorado park has it all – vegetation, mountains, lakes and hiking trails. In fact, there are a whopping 150 lakes and 359 trails.
Here are some tips for saving more money on national park fees. Many Americans are eligible for free passes. The Every Kid in a Park program offers free passes to fourth grade students, so if you have a child currently in fourth grade or who will be soon, take advantage of this opportunity. Those who are permanently disabled or who are active duty members of the military can also receive free passes to national parks.
These free admission days are perfect for those on a budget. It allows anyone to visit one of more than 400 national parks across the country. You can pack up the car and visit your favorite one – or even see three or four. It’s the perfect opportunity to see the beauty of our country.
Always wanted to camp at Yosemite or see Yellowstone? Now you have no excuses. It’s almost 2017. Plan a vacation around one of the dates above and enjoy America’s beauty – for free.