Are you looking for some free things to do with your family in 2011, like camping at a national park this year but don’t want to pay the entrance fee? Then mark your calendars and plan your visit on any one of 17 free days in 2011. America’s national parks have several free days at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees*(about 147 of the 394 parks and historic sites operated by the National Park Service charge admission fees ranging from $3-$25), BUT fees will be waived on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24) and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11-13), the National Park Service said.
The first fee free days are centered on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. “Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.” “Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 17,” added Jarvis. “It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.”
And to make the fun even more affordable, many national park concessioners are joining the National Park Service in welcoming visitors on this summer’s fee free weekends with the their own special offers. The park service has offered free days in the past two years as a way of providing cost-friendly vacation options for American families during the economic downturn. “Our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation’s heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011,” said Secretary Salazar. “There’s no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle.” Salazar noted that with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year.
Here’s a tip – many of your 392 national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee. So start Planning Your Visit!