Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced earlier in the week that the National Park Service will waive entrance fees on August 14 and 15 to encourage all Americans to visit our national parks.
“This fee-free weekend provides an opportunity for individuals and families alike to take an affordable vacation or to explore a nearby park they have never visited before,” Salazar said. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free admission to visit not only our greatest natural wonders but also our nation’s historic and cultural icons.”
There are 392 national parks located across the country in 49 states, many of which will hold free events on August 14 and 15. A complete list by park or state is available at www.nps.gov. A sampling of offerings include:
* Ranger-led programs with free instruction and equipment loans for those who want to get wet. Enjoy snorkeling at Cape Cod, kayaking at DeSoto, or canoeing in Congaree or Big Cypress. Prefer to simply chill out near the water? Bring your blanket to one of the 50 parks with beaches.
* Watch history come to life at military encampments and firing demonstrations at Antietam, Gettysburg, Fort Laramie, Fort McHenry, Fort Vancouver, Fort Stanwix, Fort Matanzas, Kings Mountain, Wilson Creek, Kennesaw Mountain, and Yorktown.
* Dance or tap your toes to the sounds of the Pig War Band at San Juan Island, Cajun music at Jean Lafitte, Ojibwe music at Grand Portage, mountain music on the Blue Ridge Parkway, folk songs at Carl Sandburg, classical music at Saint-Gaudens, or dulcimer music on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The entrance fees being waived at the 146 sites usually charge for admission range from $3 to $25. There are 246 other parks that do not have entrance fees so you can plan a free visit year-round. The fee free waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions.