If you’re already a nature lover, you probably don’t need convincing to visit a National Park this year or any other year. Or maybe you are a nature lover like me but think that National Parks are just too far away and who has the time or money to plan a trip to Yosemite? Or maybe, you just don’t know enough to figure out if you want to go, where you want to go, and what exactly you would do there.
You’re in luck! I’m going to break it down into a simple list for anybody as to why THIS YEAR of all years just might be the year to go.
1. Happy Birthday, National Parks!
On August 25, 1916, Congress officially created the National Park Service consisting of 35 National Parks. Today, the National Park Service manages over 397 sites including 58 National Parks! This year, they are officially celebrating 100 years! Go out and celebrate Founders Day or show your family the value of protecting some of the most unique lands.
2. There is probably a National Park near you!
If you’re like me, you probably think of the big parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone when you think of National Parks. But they actually exist in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. (And that doesn’t even include a few in some U.S. territories).
3. Your kids want to go to a National Park.
They probably just don’t know it yet. If they aren’t pushing you to a park and you think you’ll have to pull them, National Geographic Kids has several books that will get them interested. Books like Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure is a charming little adventure that actually teaches kids about Yellowstone and its cool features like geysers and hot springs.
Or have them check out the Junior Ranger Activity Book with puzzles, games, facts, and more inspired by the U.S. National Parks. They’ll be engaged and learning without even knowing it!
(And on the way there, have them play in the car with the Funny Fill-In: My National Parks Adventure. It’s just like Mad Libs!).
4. Admission to a National Park is cheaper than you think!
Most parks charge a fee for admission that is typically per vehicle. The fees can ranges from $5 for a one day admission to $30 for a 7 day admission. It really just depends on the park. If you’re looking to visit many parks in a year, you can consider the $80 annual pass that admits you to all National Parks and Federal fee areas.
But WAIT! There’s more…
If you’re a senior citizen (age 62 or older), you can get a Lifetime Pass for $10. And if you’re active duty military, you and your family are free (with proper identification).
And if you are none of the above but have a child entering the 4th grade, they qualify to be part of the Every Kid in a Park program. They (and their family) get free admission to the parks for the entire year! My son is heading into 4th grade in the fall so we’re looking forward to him finally giving some financial advantages to the family!
Finally, there’s free admission during National Park Week April 16-24!
5. Everybody can help plan a trip to a National Park!
With the help of National Geographic, you can pick, choose, and plan your entire trip. For adults, Nat Geo publishes an annual Guide to the National Parks of the United States. (Mine is from 2009 so I might need to upgrade).
National Geographic Kids offers a new Centennial Edition of the National Parks Guide U.S.A. It talks about activities, sights, and scenes from some of the most popular parks. In fact, I might kind of like the kids version better!
Are you convinced? Are you ready to at least make a National Park part of one of your trips? We don’t have any official summer plans yet so I’m trying to figure out where we want to head. We’ve got Shenandoah National Park to the west, Acadia National Park to the north, and Mammoth Cave to the south. I hope to make it to at least one this summer and if not, we’ll count on our rising 4th grader to help us plan over the next year!
Thanks to National Geographic Kids for providing me with so many inspirational books on the National Parks. If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of the books mentioned in this post, you can head over to the National Geographic store for a great selection of adult and kids books!