Your lands: 84 million acres, 17,000 miles of trails
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — This year, you’ll have nine chances for a fee-free visit to one of America’s 401 national parks, starting as soon as Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 20, 2014). The park service recently announced the 2014 schedule of free days, offering the fee-free visits as a way to encourage visitation.
The 2014 entrance fee-free days are:
- January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February 15-17: Presidents Day weekend
- April 19-20: National Park Week’s opening weekend
- August 25: National Park Service’s 98th birthday
- September 27: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
“America’s national parks welcome more than 280 million visitors a year. To say thanks for that support and invite every American to visit these treasures that they own, we are declaring nine days of free admission next year,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “Whether it’s that once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Yellowstone or taking a daily walk along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., or the moment at Central High School that your child suddenly understands what civil rights are all about, national parks offer places for unforgettable experiences.
“National parks not only protect and preserve the places we most value; they also add enormous economic value to nearby communities and the entire nation. Visitor spending represents a $30 billion annual benefit to the national economy and supports more than 250,000 jobs,” said Jarvis. “Fee-free days are a great way to both thank those visitors and introduce parks to first-timers who can find a new place to call an old favorite.”
With more than 84 million acres of spectacular scenery, 17,000 miles of trails, 5,000 miles of shoreline, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, and 100 million museum items and an infinite number of authentic American stories to tell, national parks offer something for every taste.
Those in search of superlatives will find them in national parks including the country’s highest point (in Denali National Park) and lowest point (in Death Valley National Park), deepest lake (Crater Lake National Park), longest cave (Mammoth Cave National Park), tallest trees (Redwood National Park), and highest waterfall (Yosemite National Park).
Normally, 133 national parks charge an entrance fee that ranges from $3 to $25. The entrance fee waiver does not cover amenity or user fees for things like camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
Other Federal land management agencies that will offer fee-free days in 2014 are: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Please contact each for details.
The National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service also participate in the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass and Federal Recreational Lands Pass programs. These passes provide access to more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, grasslands, and other federal lands. Four passes are available:
- free annual pass to current military members and their dependents
- free lifetime pass for people with permanent disabilities
- $10 lifetime senior pass for those aged 62 and over
- $80 annual pass for the general public.