5 Ways to Celebrate National Park Week

The national parks belong to all of us. Photo © Aaron Bates.

Have you marked your calendar yet? National Park Week begins this weekend! What’s National Park Week? It’s a celebration of all 401 national park sites around the country. Many parks host special events, including junior ranger programs and Earth Day activities, and all national park sites will waive their entrance fees Saturday, April 19, and Sunday, April 20.

That’s right—free admission to America’s most spectacular places, all weekend. All you need to do is show up with a sense of adventure, and maybe a water bottle and some GORP (and hiking boots … or a kayak … or a wildflower or battlefield guide … or a … well, you get the idea).

Ready to celebrate? Here are five ways to enjoy the national parks during their special week.

1. Visit a national park site near you—especially one that you’ve never been to before. This is pretty obvious, I know. But many people are surprised to discover that they’re just a few miles away from a national park. What better time to visit a new spot—or an old favorite—than when it’s free? Find a park near you on NPCA’s website and search the National Park Service site for events near you.

2. Plan a trip to a national park on your bucket list. Plan a trip now and you can look forward to it for weeks, then remember it for a lifetime. Yellowstone, Denali, Gettysburg, Acadia … Wherever you’re dreaming of, you can’t go wrong, so block off some time before other obligations start filling up your spring and summer. (Me, I’m planning my first trip to Bryce Canyon in Utah—hoodoos, here I come!) Looking for a spot off the beaten path? See NPCA’s hidden gems for some great trip ideas.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The author is planning her trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Where are you headed? Photo © Jason Miehl/Dreamstime.

3. Take action to defend park funding. We love to visit national parks, but the truth is, they don’t run themselves. Maintaining the many visitor services, interpretive programs, restoration projects, and other day-to-day operations takes expertise—and cash. Though Congress has sharply cut funding for the Park Service in recent years, the president proposed a budget last month that would increase national park funding by at least $55 million dollars—if members of Congress agree to support it. It just takes a few seconds to let your senators and representative know that you care about the health of national parks and want them fully funded for the future.

4. Enjoy an original work of national park art. NPCA and the Creative Action Network launched a crowdsourced art project in January that invites artists to reimagine the historic 1930s-era posters of national parks for a new generation. For just $25, you can get a gorgeous print of your favorite park, or for just $20, a park-inspired container for your coffee. The Creative Action Network will be sponsoring a number of promotions and giveaways all week at seeamericaproject.com.

A few of the author's favorite See America images from seeamericaproject.org

A few of the author’s favorite posters from seeamericaproject.com.

5. Share your story. Once you’ve spent time at a national park, it’s normal to go on and on about what an amazing time you had, making everyone around you want to go, too. Sure, you could do this the old-school way, cornering people at parties with your photos or recounting your favorite wildlife encounter at the office water cooler. You could also visit NPCA’s story-sharing website, My Park Story, specially designed to help you inspire other park lovers across the interwebs with your most treasured memories.

About the Author

Editor of Online Communications Jennifer Errick

Jennifer Errick is editor of online communications at NPCA.