When my mother bravely loaded our Chevy hatchback with the faulty second gear to drive us down America’s scenic highways and on through several of its National Parks, our unforgettable journey not only taught us the value of bonding through family travel (and adventure!) but showed us firsthand what natural wonders had been set aside for us by our country and should never be taken for granted.
This month, from April 21 through April 29, you’ll have the opportunity to visit ANY of America’s 397 National Parks for FREE. Many of the parks will also be offering special Earth Day activities and events while you are there. Some you might want to check out if you’ll be in California include:
Yosemite National Park will have a guided bike tour of the valley for $5 each, including bike rental (or FREE if you bring your own bike – our favorite way to see Yosemite!), face painting and crafts for kids, and a family night that includes a sing-along and dramatic staging of Dr. Suess’s The Lorax in the Yosemite Lodge amphitheater. More special events, activities and offers are mentioned here.
Grand Sequoia National Park will have family-friendly events including an Earth Day Fair with numerous giveaways, guided forest tour, and evening meteor shower viewing at Wuksachi Lodge. More info about these and other special events here.
If you can’t take advantage of National Parks Week this month, these FREE entrance dates are also scheduled for later this year:
MORE FREE NATIONAL PARK DAYS IN 2012:
- June 9: Get Outdoors Day
- September 29: National Public Lands Day
- November 10 – 12: Veteran’s Day Weekend
Some of our National Parks, it should be noted, are always free. And of course, if it’s easier to see a National Park this year on your own time and your own dime, it can still be well worth every penny of the entrance fee.
For ideas and inspiration in planning your trip to a National Park this year:
- You can check out Ken Burns: The National Parks – America’s Best Idea: or follow this link to dowload the individual park episode you want.
- Explore these 35 National Park Adventures for Kids in this online brochure from the National Parks Foundation.
- If Yosemite National Park is on your list, be sure to see my tips for visiting Yosemite with young kids, biking, managing your car seat in bear country and more!
As we sang so often on our trip several years ago, “This land is your land; this land is my land.” I hope you’ll get a chance to get out there and share some of it with your own family this year.