Free days at the National Parks (I said FREE!)



Water shooting through OId Faithful can travel as fast as the speed of sound, or roughly the rate that tourists there spend money

A couple years ago, I headed to Yellowstone National Park with my best friend in a rather awesome attempt to ditch all the men in our lives for two weeks.

We camped. We got filthy. We did not for a moment think about our hair or makeup. We ate a lot of chocolate. But that wasn't even the best part. The best part was actually that we didn't pay to get into Yellowstone. Because they let us into the gate for free.

I know what you're thinking: Indy Reporters are basically rock stars known the world over and let in free-of-charge to major events like the Super Bowl and Lady Gaga concerts. But no, actually, my reputation did not precede me.

They were letting everyone in for free! It was a special free day!

Look, I'm not going to pretend that this was anywhere near my biggest expense for this vacation. I think it was like $35 or something. But when you're blowing money out your ears, getting anything for free feels like a major victory. So I encourage each of you to take advantage of national park free days this year.

All the info. you need to know is below:

Salazar Announces National Park Fee Free Days for 2011

Encourages All Americans to Visit a Park this Year

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011 and encouraged all Americans to make a New Year’s resolution to visit a national park this year.

“Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011,” said Secretary Salazar. “There’s no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle.”

Salazar noted that with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year.

“In these tough economic times, our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation’s heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways,” he said.

The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (September 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 11-13).

The first fee free days are centered on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.”

“Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 17,” added Jarvis. “It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a day on, not a day off.”

Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee free days, saving visitors money on food, lodging, tours, and souvenirs. More information is available at


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