Free Days at National Parks

When was the last time you were at a National Park? Watching sunrise over the Grand Canyon, stopping mid-hike to watch buffalo in Yellowstone move across a meadow, climbing the cracks at Joshua Tree, parks provide incredible, cinematic memories and experiences. Our national parks, called “The Nation’s Best Idea,” are truly a treasure as a set and individually. Over 100 of the 392 parks are offering free admission this weekend, August 14-15, to entice you outside. Free Days are the law of the land in many parks that never charge admission, but for the ones that do, take a trip this weekend and take advantage of this incredible resource we too often forget.

While you are visiting a park this special weekend, look around and picture yourself volunteering there next weekend or later on this year. Volunteers serve the national parks in truly important ways. We’ve seen economics take their toll on public land (witness California’s closing of many state parks in economic crisis), so volunteers truly make a difference. The National Parks Service last ran the numbers in 2005 (it seems they need some volunteers to do more recent statistics), but even then, half a decade of dramatically increased volunteering ago, volunteers donated 5.2 million hours in national parks work. So get busy enjoying parks this weekend, and then get busy assuring we can enjoy them later.


***For more amazing landscape photos, check out Charles N. Abbott/99 Photography (

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