With 423 national parks in the U.S., there is a lot of nature to celebrate and appreciate this upcoming week. Now that there is spring weather shining through in most states, the urge to get out there is only getting stronger.
Next week, from April 17 to April 25, is National Park Week 2021. This recurring event helps to highlight the wonders of the national parks through different programs, events, and other experiences. The National Park Foundation and National Park Service join forces to celebrate.
Here’s some of what’s going to be taking place for National Park Week.
Free Entry and Other Events
There’s no doubt that exploring what national parks have to offer is a year-long and sometimes even a lifelong mission. However, National Park Week just helps to highlight and fund the parks in different ways.
For example, on Saturday (April 17), there will be free entry at all national parks, according to USA Today. This essentially means that the park fees are being waived. For reference, the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, has an entrance fee of $25 for one day and there is also a $35 per vehicle entrance fee that is good for a week.
This amount is different for every park and some parks do not have an entrance fee at all. While the entrance fee is waived on Saturday, you must still pay fees for camping, transportation, and other activities or tours you’re interested in.
This is one of many days of the year that NPS waives the entrance fee. Other days include August 4 for the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, August 25 for NPS’s birthday, September 25 for National Public Lands Day, and November 11 for Veterans Day.
While spring weather has warmed the country up, COVID-19 is still very much with us. This means that anyone who is intending on visiting a national park must continue to wear masks. It is a part of the executive order from President Joe Biden that mandates masks while on federal lands or buildings, which includes any national park. A mask is needed when social distancing is not possible.
In order to stay up to date on events this week, NPS urges people to follow along on social media. Each day will have themes, in-person events, as well as virtual events for people who can’t get out this upcoming week. The whole month is Connected Conservation Month for NPS.
How to Celebrate National Park Week
Themes next week will range from honoring volunteers and military personnel to park history and conservation-themed days as well. April 22 is Earth Day and on April 25 is BARK Ranger Day. This means that your furry friends, which typically aren’t allowed in national parks, can go ahead and tag along for the day. The dog must remain on a leash at all times, waste must be picked up, and trails must be followed as always.
Each day has hashtags for people to follow along on social media. The #FindYourPark is also particularly active.
Parks may be busier this next week due to the events and free admission. According to The Washington Post, many people show up at the parks at the same time of the year. In 2020, six U.S. national parks brought in a quarter of the entire system’s 237,064,332 visitors that year.
In order to get a less crowded experience, consider going to a lesser-known national park during peak tourist months. This includes places like the Nantahala National Forest and Transylvania County in North Carolina, Sequoia National Park, Glacier National Park, or even the Capitol Reef National Park, amongst many, many others.