Visit US National Parks for Free

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Grand Tetons at Sunrise. Photo by Howard Ignatius

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE released the 2012 dates for free admission to all US national parks.

This weekend (Jan. 14th-16th) all 397 parks will be open in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Fourteen more dates will follow throughout 2012 including National Park Week (April 21 to 29), Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (September 29), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 10 to 12).

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Grand Canyon in winter. Photo by NPS.

If you’ve only visited America’s national parks in the summer, the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is a great excuse to see one in the winter. The seasonal contrast is phenomenal. For example, seeing snow cap Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos can really changed my understanding of Utah’s high desert.

Even on a free-admission day, parks in the winter will be much less crowded. Yellowstone can feel almost urban during the high season, but skiing past Bison on an empty road, watching steam huff from their noses as they shuffle by in single-file, can be one of the most wilderness experiences you can have.

Whether you take advantage of the free dates, or you pay for admission, the national park system is a resource that deserves to be explored, and enjoyed.

Planning on traveling to a national park this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below or at our Facebook page.

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