Visit A National Park For Free During National Park Week 2012
We are all big fans of theme parks and children’s attractions, but some times the best ‘attraction’ is the one in your own backyard. This April 21 – 29, the National Park Foundation brings back National Park Week 2012. With nearly 400 national parks acrosss the USA taking part, visitors can take advantage of FREE admission and activities all week long.
From hiking to biking to swimming, nature walks, kayaking, or bird watching, there are great outdoor activities in national parks for visitors of all ages. By introducing kids to these majestic places, we give the gift of learning a healthy lifestyle and help guarantee the future of parks for generations to come.
Kids five to 12 years old are encouraged to take part in free Junior Ranger programs in almost every national park. Ask for a Junior Ranger booklet at the visitor center and earn a badge by completing different activities. Many parks will host special events on Junior Ranger Day – April 28.
Here are even more great ways to get some exercise and enjoy National Park Week:
- Take a Hike – There are 18,600 miles of trails in national parks. Hit the trail for a short hike or a day-long expedition. Cross the Continental Divide on the High Line Trail in Glacier, go vertical on the Moro Rock Trail in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, or tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail.
- Dive In – Enjoy 43,000 miles of national park shoreline. Walk on the beach, go for a swim, snorkel an underwater trail in the Virgin Islands, or dive the aquamarine water and fish-bejeweled coral reefs of Biscayne or the kelp forests and sea caves of Channel Islands. Or, take a canoe or kayak ride through Big Cypress to observe manatees and birds.
- Go Underground – Travel below the surface and discover the dazzling sights found along more than 900 miles of passageways in caves. Check out Mammoth Cave – the longest cave in the world or the 14-acre Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns. If you are really adventurous, sign up for a spelunking trip.
- View Wildlife – National parks are the best places to view wildlife in their natural habitats. Don’t get too close but enjoy seeing everything from baby birds to two-ton bison in a park. Watch the strutting age grouse perform its annual courtship dance in Grand Teton or the spring migration of grey whales at Point Reyes. Or, encounter prehistoric wildlife such as a saber tooth cat at Badlands or a Stegosaurus at Dinosaur. There are 233 national parks with preserved fossils, some which date back two billion years.
- Be a VIP – Help out as a Volunteer-In-Park on National Volunteer Day on April 21. Participate in the spring planting at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a shoreline clean-up at Golden Gate, or park day at Stones River.
- Go Green – Take part in Earth Day activities at many national parks. There will 50 exhibiters, food, music, and family activities at John Muir’s birthday celebration at John Muir National Historic Site. Saratoga will host exhibits and an art show featuring pieces made from natural and recycled material. The Grand Canyon will have a variety of interactive exhibits at its largest ever Earth Day event. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial will host an Earth Day Jamboree.
- Take to Two Wheels – One of the most popular things to do in a park is ride a bike. You set your own pace and can easily stop to relax or take in the view when and where you want. One of the newest bike trails was recently built in New River Gorge. More than 1,400 Boy Scouts and leaders volunteered 78,544 hours to construct a 12.8-mile mountain bike trail. Other popular parks for biking include Acadia which has 45 miles of old carriage roads, Canyonlands, home of the 103-mile White Rim Road loop, and the C&O Canal and its 184-mile long towpath.
Be sure to visit www.nationalparkweek.org. The site also contains a calendar of events and plenty of information on how to visit and support national parks.