America is known for having some of the most beautiful park areas in the world. With 417 designated national parks in the country there are so many to choose from. From the huge internationally well-known ones like Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon to lesser known gems like Acadia, Congaree and Capitol Reef there are options covering all climates, altitudes and activities.
Luckily for us, one week a year IT IS NATIONAL PARKS WEEK – that means that for this weekend (April 15th and 16th), and next weekend (22nd and 23rd) parks are open to the public for FREE! Which is a great incentive to take a weekend for camping, or just pack a bag and go for a fun day hike. A great way to find what you are looking for is the ‘find your park’ website.
Locally in California we are fortunate to have access to the most densely packed corner of parks in the US. We have Yosemite, Joshua Tree, the Channel Islands, Death Valley, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and many, many more – perfect for a long weekends camping. These parks have amazing, well maintained hiking trails which allow fantastic access to wild flora and fauna. In Sequoia in just one day we were lucky enough to see two different types of deer, many squirrels, hundreds of interesting birds AND two black bears! Most parks also offer lead nature hikes and great information centres and well informed signs – meaning you can really make the most of your hike and learn about the wildlife.
However, if you can’t take the whole weekend off there is an excellent, very local opportunity - Cabrillo National Monument. Not only does it provide amazingly beautiful 360˚ views of San Diego, there is also interesting history on the light house and its inhabitants AND an awesome opportunity to go tide-pooling. The phenomenal views also mean it is worth taking your binoculars – with a huge panoramic of the Pacific Ocean, keep your eyes peeled for the Pacific Grey Whales who are currently migrating from Alaska to Mexico. Dolphins are also a common sighting and always great to see!
If you can’t make it to a National Park in the next two weekends, you can buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful’ pass for $80 per car. With 113 of the parks charging up to $30 entry, it is great value if you plan even three trips in one year. And once you have the pass – what a great excuse to go and visit even more parks!
National Parks Free Entry Days
Number of National Parks
Find Your Parks: