Free Admission to National Parks this Week

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Beginning April 16th, America's national parks are free. Saturday marks the beginning of National Parks Week, a week-long (April 16-24) celebration of America's 394 national parks, according to the National Park Service. This year's focus is “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” and the role national parks play in the vital connection between human and environmental health.

Running congruent with the 2011 National Parks Week is the National Parks Project, a partnership between Nature Valley and celebrity Josh Holloway (“James Sawyer” on Lost) that aims to raise up to $500,000 to help preserve some the 84.4 million acres of park which are visited by 300 million people annually.

“At Nature Valley, we believe that our national parks help unite Americans with their love for nature and the outdoors – and we often need to be reminded to slow down and take it all in,” said Scott Baldwin, marketing manager for Nature Valley. “With the support of Josh Holloway, consumers and the NPCA, the National Parks Project will help ensure our national parks can be enjoyed for years to come.”

The 2011 project will focus preservation efforts on Joshua Tree National Park, Acadia National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, among others.

National park conservancy began in earnest in 1916, when the National Park Service Organic Act passed. It granted the government power to preserve land for the express purpose of conserving scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Legislation would eventually give the president executive power to protect national land, unchallenged. Today, the parks protect everything from Lincoln's childhood home, remnants of ancient civilizations, countless battlefields, and some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in the country.

Highlights of this year's National Park Week celebrations include volunteer day on April 16th, National Junior Ranger Day at Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, a quiet walk through Muir Woods to celebrate John Muir's birthday, and many more.

Not sure which park to head to? Check out our Adventure Adviser for the Five Must-do National Park Experiences and be sure to check out our ten tips for finding adventure in the parks.

–Ali Taylor Lange

Trending on Outside Online