To encourage Americans to explore America’s natural beauty, rich history and culture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 days in 2012.
“From Independence Hall to our newest national park, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, our national parks tell the story of America, from the beauty of our land to our struggle for freedom and justice,” Secretary Salazar said. “Whether or not it’s during one of the 17 fee-free days, I encourage everyone to visit a park near them and enjoy the remarkable landscapes and historical and cultural sites that are unique to our great country.”
Salazar emphasized that our national parks and public lands serve as an economic engine for many local communities, supports jobs and driving tourism. Recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands fueled nearly $55 billion in economic activity and supported 440,000 jobs in 2009.
The National Park fee-free dates for 2012 are:
- January 14 to 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend)
- April 21 to 29 (National Park Week)
- June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)
- September 29 (National Public Lands Day)
- November 10 to 12 (Veterans Day weekend).
More information is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
In addition, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service will waive their entrance and standard amenity fees:
- January 14 to 16
- June 9
- September 29
- November 10 to 12
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also have a fee free day on October 14 in recognition of National Wildlife Refuge Week.
The Bureau of Reclamation will waive standard amenity fees on:
- September 29
- November 12
Many park-related hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and tour operators will offer specials on fee-free days.
“The majority of national parks don’t have an entrance fee and those that do charge a maximum of $25 a week for an entire family” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We realize there are additional expenses when visiting a park so many associated businesses will have discounts and enhancements on the fee-free days.”
“One of the great things about a national park vacation is it can be as economical or luxurious as desired,” added Jarvis. “A visit can be a few hours or several days. One could pack their lunch or eat at a snack bar, cafeteria, or gourmet dining room. One could sleep under the stars in the backcountry or stay in a campground, motel, or majestic lodge. There is something for everyone at each of the country’s 395 national parks. So mark the dates, grab a friend or family member — especially one that has never been to a park before — and come visit one of your national parks.”