The National Park Service Gives Us 13 Fee-Free Days For 2013

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The Nation­al Park Ser­vice has con­ve­nient­ly pro­vid­ed us with yet anoth­er excuse for enjoy­ing the great out­doors in 2013 by offi­cial­ly announc­ing its list of fee-free days for the year ahead. Over the course of the next 12 months, the NPS has des­ig­nat­ed 13 days to be a part of the fee-free pro­gram, grant­i­ng access to more than 2000 nation­al parks, forests, wildlife refuges and oth­er fed­er­al lands at no charge. The first of these fee-free days will take place on Jan­u­ary 21 in cel­e­bra­tion of Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Day. Falling ear­ly in the year makes this a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it some of the more spec­tac­u­lar parks in the sys­tem in the mid­dle of win­ter, when they are usu­al­ly uncrowd­ed and pro­vide a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence from the sum­mer months. For exam­ple, both Yel­low­stone and Olympic are absolute­ly spec­tac­u­lar win­ter play­grounds, as are Yosemite and Bryce Canyon. If you haven’t vis­it­ed any of these parks in Jan­u­ary, this may be the per­fect time to do so.

The remain­ing fee-free days are sprin­kled through­out the year and each cor­re­sponds with a spe­cif­ic hol­i­day or spe­cial day of some type. The fol­low­ing is a com­plete list of each of the fee-free days for 2013 and the cel­e­bra­tion with which they are associated:

  • Jan­u­ary 21 — Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 22–26 — Nation­al Park Week
  • June 8 — Great Out­doors Day
  • August 25 — Nation­al Park Ser­vice Birthday
  • Sep­tem­ber 28 — Nation­al Pub­lic Land Day
  • Octo­ber 13 — Nation­al Wildlife Refuge Day
  • Novem­ber 9–11 — Vet­er­ans Day weekend

The fee-free pro­gram was ini­ti­at­ed a few years back and has become quite pop­u­lar with trav­el­ers – many of whom plan their vis­its to coin­cide with the one or more of these days.  If you’re plan­ning on vis­it­ing a nation­al park lat­er this year, then per­haps your sched­ule will allow you take advan­tage of these great oppor­tu­ni­ties to expe­ri­ence “Amer­i­ca’s Best Idea” with­out pay­ing an entry fee. But even if you can’t vis­it on a fee-free day, vis­it­ing a park is always a good idea. These are, after all, some of the most breath­tak­ing and icon­ic land­scapes on the plan­et and well worth the effort.

[Pho­to Cred­it: Nation­al Park Ser­vice]