Sunday, November 11, is Veterans Day, which means FREE entrance all weekend to 133 National Parks across the country that normally charge a fee all weekend, Nov. 10-12. Here is just a sample of what you can do during Free Entrance Days in the National Parks:
- Cabrillo National Monument west of San Diego offers ranger-led talks and activities throughout the day, along with plenty of exhibits about the Cabrillo, N.M., area. It’s a fascinating place to learn about such diverse subjects as 16th century explorers and oil spills.
- Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah has famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, mysterious petroglyphs and endless opportunities for adventure. Kids can earn a special Junior Paleontology badge by completing age-appropriate activities.
- Grand Canyon National Park provides many opportunities to learn about nature, science and history. Take a tour with a park ranger. Visit one of the many Information Centers. Watch a park orientation film (it starts every half hour from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily). Use your cell phone for a fun way to learn about the park and listen as park rangers give two-minute audio tours at points of interest on the South Rim.
- Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi, Texas, has more bird species that any other city in the United States. Corpus Christi is known as the “Birdiest City in America,” and the Padre Island National Seashore, with 130,000 acres of undeveloped land, is an exceptional place for watching birds.
- The Wright-Dunbar Neighborhood in Ohio is the place to learn about Dayton Aviation Heritage. A walking tour, led by a park ranger, gives you the opportunity to learn about the Wright brothers and the significance of the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, classmate to Orville Wright.
- The Florida Everglades features the “hands on” Shark Byte, a 30-minute talk by a park ranger about ecology, history, environmental issues and surprising aspects of the Everglades.
- Especially for Kids. At participating National Parks, kids can join the Junior Ranger Program and get a free booklet that describes age-appropriate activities. When they’ve completed the tasks, they are awarded an official Junior Ranger badge.
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During the free entrance days, the parks waive entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservations, camping, tours, concessions and fees collected by third parties are not included in this promotion.
Entrance fees to extremely popular parks are in the $20 to $25 range for private cars. Many of the smaller parks, historical sites and recreational areas have lower fees, and 264 sites are always free. Find a Park by going to the National Park Service website and using the search tool or interactive map. You can search for parks in your state or parks that feature activities you like, such as bird watching, camping, fishing or hiking, as well as educational programs and historic sites.
Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first national park, was established by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. The National Park System encompasses 397 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state except Delaware and the District of Columbia.
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