This weekend kicks off what is arguably one of my favorite weeks of the year: National Park Week, an 8-day stretch during which admission to all 401 of the parks in our national system is totally free.
For family travelers, this means now is a great time to get out and explore some of our nation’s biggest treasures.
Heck, Monday is Earth Day, so why not celebrate in a national park?
Many parks will be rolling out special programs all week long. Some of these programs are interactive; others are more educational in nature. In previous years my family has participated in art programs and guided hikes. We also have enjoyed storytelling sessions like this one at Buffalo National River in Arkansas.
Then, of course, there’s Volunteer Day on April 27, during which your entire family can get elbows dirty and participate in trash pick-up, trail maintenance or other forms of hard labor typically reserved only for rangers and docents.
If you’re part of a family that likes to explore parks independently, take advantage of the free admission and plan an outing all your own. One great resource: National Geographic Secrets of the National Parks: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Experiences Beyond the Tourist Trail, a new book by friend and fellow travel writer, Bob Howells.
As for us, we Villanos will be celebrating National Park Week with a mid-week jaunt from our home in Sonoma County, California down to Muir Woods National Monument, where we’ll have picnic and a morning under the redwoods.
Last time we went, R was so little that I had to carry her in an Ergo. This time, I’m sure she’ll give big sister L quite a race.