If your resolution this year is to spend more time off the couch and on a park bench or hiking in our national parks, here are some free goodies that might keep you motivated in 2020.
Let’s start with free admission.
Every year, the National Park Service issues a list of days when entrance fees are waived. This is for 110 parks that charge admission. There is no admission fee for the other 309 national park sites.
Free admission days at our National Parks
This year the free days are:
- Martin Luther King Day – Jan. 20.
- First day of National Park Week – April 18.
- National Park Service Birthday – Aug. 25
- National Public Lands Day – Sept. 26
- Veterans Day – Nov. 11
Park fees vary. But when you consider the savings of bringing an entire family to a park, well, that savings can add up.
Go the NPS.gov website and Find a Park. For many of the parks they will have several helpful items available, such as free maps.
For even more goodies, don’t forget to visit the website for the National Park Foundation.
This is an organization that was set up by Congress to help raise funds for our precious national parks and to market them to the public.
There are a bunch of cool items there – for free.
Go to this page (you must enter your email to get access).
There you will find a bunch of fantastic, in-depth brochures.
Free guides from the National Park Foundation
For example they include:
National Park Owner’s Guide – if you do anything, this is the page you want to visit. The guide is an extensive brochure on more than 400 national parks. What’s very cool, is that the guide breaks down the parks and historic sites by state. You may be surprised to see some gems that are right in your backyard and certainly worth visiting.
Urban Playgrounds Guide – if you live close to one of 24 major cities in the US, this guide will show you a bunch of fun park places to visit. Most of the activities can be done in a day or less. If you are looking for ideas on things to do, this is the brochure for you.
Road Tripping Guide – if you want to get away, but don’t want to drive across the country to visit Zion National Park, take a look at this guide. Road Trippin’ provides suggestions for 15 different getaways you can accomplish on a weekend.
Winter Wonderland Guide – so what if it’s cold outside? With this guide, you will find fun activities to do at parks during the winter. They include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding and more.
Recharge in the Parks – this is a great guide for any park. The brochure offers tips on how to immerse yourself in a park with trees and greenery and recharge. There are numerous studies on the benefits of spending time outdoors with nature. In fact, the Japanese have a term for this – “forest bathing.” Check it out and feel better.
There are additional guides on other topics as well.
I Heart Parks – guide to getting married in a park or taking a romantic adventure.
Happy Trails – guide to 25 amazing hikes.
Parks for Play – guide to kids of all ages to 35 park adventures that can be especially enjoyed by children and families.
The Places Nobody Knows – guide to great parks that are hidden gems.
National Parks by Rail – a guide to exploring our parks by train, an exciting combination.
PS If you still aren’t motivated to get out of the house, go to https://www.nps.gov/media/multimedia-search.htm and check out the photo galleries. Looking at all of the beautiful outdoor scenes at our national parks. They might be just the inspiration you need to replace that couch with a park bench.