U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that all 392 national parks will have free admission during National Park Week, April 17-25. Parks will also offer additional family-friendly activities and special offers on tours, lodging, food, and souvenirs. A listing of parks and promotions is available from the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/npweek. National parks had 285 million visitors in 2009 and contributed an estimated $12 billion to local economies within 50 miles of national parks, the NPS reports.
“We are rolling out the red carpet and inviting everyone to visit a national park and help celebrate National Park Week,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Parks are fun and affordable destinations and great places to engage in healthy, outdoor activities, whether for a few hours or a few days.”
National Park Week, a program of the National Park Service, is an opportunity to engage families and communities in America’s great outdoors, reconnecting them with nature and creating close to home opportunities for people to get outside, be active, and have fun.
“National parks preserve our heritage, promote recreational experiences, and provide places of quiet refuge,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. “Most people live within a short drive of a national park so I encourage everyone to spend some time enjoying America’s great outdoors during National Park Week.”
There will be hundreds of family friendly events on Saturday, April 24, for National Junior Ranger Day. Each child participating in Junior Ranger activities will receive a certificate, patch, or pin. Other National Park Week highlights include the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the 75th anniversary of the nation’s most visited national park – the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Normally, 146 of 392 national parks charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25. The other 246 do not charge for admission. The fee-free waiver for National Park Week does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations and use of concessions.