Thursday, June 18, 2009

First of three fee-free weekends at national parks

A couple of weeks ago the National Park Service announced that they will be offering three fee-free weekends this summer to encourage Americans seeking affordable vacations to visit our National Parks.

“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said at a recent press conference. “I encourage everyone to visit one of our nation’s crown jewels this summer and especially to take advantage of the three free-admission weekends.”

The first of the free-admission weekends occurs this weekend, June 20-21, which happens to include Father's Day. Hey, what better way to spend a day than with dear old dad!

Entrance fees will also be waived during the weekends of July 18-19, and August 15-16, 2009.

Additionally, many park partners including tour operators, hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and other vendors will be offering additional discounts and special promotions on these dates. More information on special fees and discounts can be found at:

Obviously this doesn't benefit people planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains. Afterall, the park doesn't charge an entrance fee. However, these three weekends might provide a good excuse to visit many of the other parks in the system, such as Shenandoah National Park, that do charge entrance fees.

There are a total of 391 national parks located in 49 states, with 147 sites that charge an admission fee ranging between $3 and $25.

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