Brrrr!! The nights are getting cooler, the trees are putting on a gorgeous display of color and now’s a great time to get a REAL DEAL at more than 100 National Parks that usually charge $20-25 to get in. Woo Hoo!
There’s a park within a few hours drive from where nearly all of us live, so gas up the family chariot and take a mini-vacation with your family. Spend some time in the Great Outdoors. Get that city smog out of your lungs (hack! cough! wheeze!) and breathe in some fresh, clean air.
Put on your Bucky Beaver Ground Grabbers (that’s tennis shoes, Darlin’) and take a hike. Not into hiking? OK, let’s just call it a stroll then. I’ve already got a feather boa picked out to match my hiking boots and I’m ready to go . . . uh . . . I mean, stroll.
Right about now you’re probably thinking, “What’s the catch? It usually costs at least $20.00 a carload to get in to any National Park, so how come you’re talking freebie here?”
Here’s the secret. . . Every year there are no-entrance fee days.. Even a couple of weekends. And one entire week in April. Free. No charge. Absolutely nada. Sweet!
You’ve got one shot left this year — November 11-13. That’s right, Veteran’s Day weekend. And it’s comin’ up soon, so mark your calendar. Hey, call it an “Expedition” and get the whole dang family involved in planning it. What’s not to love?
Here are the fee-free dates for 2012. There are 17 in all:
• January 14-16 (Martin Luther King Jr. weekend)
• April 21-29 (National Park Week)
• June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)
• September 29 (National Public Lands Day)
• November 10 – 12 (Veterans Day weekend)
There’s also something called The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. That’s a mouthful! Here’s the deal with that. It gets you into 2,000 + federal recreation sites and you won’t have to take out a loan or hock the family silver to make it happen.
The pass is free if you have a permanent disability. For people 62 and over, it’s a mere $10 for a lifetime pass. And you thought getting older was just about gray hair! HA! Getting older does have some benefits so take advantage of ’em, Baby Doll.
You don’t fit either one? No problemo. An annual pass is $80 and anyone qualifies. Yeah, I know $80 sounds like a lot to lay out all at once. But think of it this way — if you use it just 6 times a year, that’s less than 15 smackers for a whole day of fun. And there are tons of freebies thrown in too. Here’s just a sample of goodies you don’t have to shell out a dime to enjoy: ranger-led fall foliage tours, Junior Ranger activity books and programs, history walks like the Going Bunkers tour at Ft. Hancock, or spend an afternoon fossil hunting. Every park offers something different but there are free events and activities at each one. Such a deal! Now that’s saving money, Frugalista-style.
Before you go, check out How to See National Parks Like a Pro.
- Best Eats at America’s National Parks (thedailymeal.com)