On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act into law, thereby establishing the National Park Service (NPS). To celebrate its 103rd birthday, the NPS is waiving entrance fees to all national park sites across the U.S. on August 25. It’s one of five fee-free days in 2019 (the two remaining ones are National Public Lands Day on September 18 and Veterans Day on November 11).
The National Park System includes 419 sites covering more than 85 million acres throughout the country. In addition to 61 national parks, it also includes national monuments, national historical parks, national seashores, and more. The newest national park was established in February of this year, with the upgrade of Indiana Dunes from national lakeshore to national park.
Through its #FindYourPark campaign, the NPS encourages you to locate and visit your nearest park (there’s at least one NPS site in every state). And if you go this Sunday, you won’t have to pay to get in. Keep in mind, though, that if you plan to camp or take part in other activities within park boundaries, you may still need to pay a fee for those.
If you’ve never been to a U.S. national park, expect to find some of the country’s most breathtaking nature, amazing outdoor recreation opportunities, and important history and culture.
If you need some inspiration on where to start, here are some of the Roadtrippers team’s favorite parks:
“The white gypsum sand creates a landscape like nothing else in America. When I visited, three intense lightning storms were rotating around the park and cracking down forks that lit up the dunes with a purple glow. Unforgettable.”
—James, Roadtrippers Founder & CEO
“Olympic is expansive and gives you a little bit of everything—ocean coastlines, old growth forests, and mountains. It’s impossible to get bored there.”
—Margot Perry, Full Stack Software Engineer
“On a family trip a few years ago, we hiked the Taylor Creek Trail in Zion. It started out as a normal trail, then went through the creek itself. The water helped cool us off on a hot day and the canyon was wildly different from what I was used to seeing while hiking out east.”
—Kyle Kochanek, Senior Product Designer
“If I am lucky enough to be there, it likely means it is a perfect summer day of recharging ‘up north’ on Lake Michigan. Hopefully, it also means I will round out my trip with wine and cider tastings, fresh cherries, wave jumping, scenic drives, and bonfires.”
—Pam Marzolf, VP Brand & Partner Solutions
“There’s a certain feeling that always overwhelms me as soon as I enter Joshua Tree National Park; this sense of inner calm and serenity that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It’s what makes me return as often as I possibly can, usually several times per year.”
—Sanna Boman, Lead Editor
“The tiny, triangular park across the street from the Stonewall Inn is the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history. It’s also a great place to sit in the shade and people watch while listening to an impromptu piano serenade or dozens of rainbow flags flapping in the breeze.”
—Alexandra Charitan, Managing Editor