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National Parks truly are some of this nations best treasures, and if you don’t take the time to visit them I would not hesitate to say that you are missing out. It all started when Yellowstone National Park was established by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, and since then over 50 National Parks have been established including: Acadia, Arches, Big Bend, Bryce Canyon, Carlsbad, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Haleakalā, Volcanos, Kenai Fjords, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainer, Redwood, Virgin Islands, Yosemite, Zion, and dozens more.
When looking at the list I feel super grateful that I have seen or visited many of these beautiful spots, and have a mental list of many more that I want to visit. My parents are doing even better than I am checking National Parks off their “bucket list”, and you can see their posts on places like Mesa Verde, Arches, Rocky Mountain, Denali and many more…
I was surprised to learn that the most popular National Park by far in 2015 was the Great Smoky Mountains – doubling the visitors to the second most popular park, the Grand Canyon. The National Parks range in size from larger than the entire country of Belgium at over 8 million acres with the Wrangell–St. Elias in Alaska to “just” 5,500 acres with Hot Springs in Arkansas.
While these parks are, in my view, all worth the cost of admission, that admission isn’t usually free and is often $20 – $30 per vehicle, depending on the park. Of course, if you are US citizen or permanent resident aged 62 or older you absolutely should have the America the Beautiful Pass for $10 that will get you (and the rest of your vehicle) in for the rest of your life. My parents have and utilize this pass on their travels regularly!
However, if you don’t quality for that or another discounted or free admission option, then you can save some money by visiting the National Parks during one of the free days they offer throughout the year. This entire week is actually free as it is National Park Week!
Even if you didn’t plan a trip around free admission opportunity, perhaps you can find the time to go to a park near you for free. In fact, there are 16 free admission days in 2016 so you still have time to plan for later in the year if you can’t get to a park this week.
The free admission covers not only the 50 or so big name National Parks, but also the National Monuments, Recreation Centers, Historic Sites, and more…
I’ve loved every National Park I have visited as a child and with my own family and I can’t wait to visit many more in the coming years!