What's New in the National Parks
Fee-Free Days for SavingsSome parks are free year-round, while the most popular can have fees of up to $25. Even if you missed first fee-free days of 2011 during National Park Week (April 16–22), there are still days when admission fees are waived throughout the year:
- June 21: First Day of Summer
- September 24: National Public Lands Day
- November 11–13: Veterans Day Weekend.
New Pee-Wee Ranger ProgramAmerica's National Parks have always been a great way for children to learn about nature, especially with the Junior Ranger Program for 5–12 year olds that's in almost every park. But now a couple parks are starting to offer another free option with activity books and ranger-led activities specifically designed for 3–4 year olds: the Pee-Wee Ranger Program. This preschool-age option is expected to expand but is currently only at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska's Inside Passage and Jewel Cave National Monument near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Learn more about Kids Programs in the Parks.
2011 BioBlitz: Saguaro National ParkWhether it's in a local or national park, BioBlitzes are a fun and active way to get involved in environmental initiatives. On October 21 and 22, park visitors—volunteers and scientists—at Saguaro National Park's BioBlitz will help find and identify as many plants and animals as possible. The list for this Southern Arizona park will help record the number of species ranging from the namesake cactus and other succulents to distinctive birds and even rattlesnakes. Since 2007, the National Park Service has chosen one location each year for the annual BioBlitz program. Past parks have included Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. and Biscayne National Park in Florida's Everglades.
Civil War Sesquicentennial EventsThe Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011–2015) is a great opportunity to discover America's past. Instead of brushing up on your history at home or visiting a museum, why not explore the actual sites where dramatic battles took place? Many of our favorite locations have popular events and re-enactments in summer. Here are some of our top parks to experience the Sesquicentennial:
- Antietam National Battlefield: Western Maryland
- Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park: North Georgia
- Fort Sumter National Monument: Charleston, South Carolina
- Gettysburg National Military Park: Pennsylvania Dutch Country
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We are planning an extended summer vacation next year. Hoping to visit as many national parks & monuments as possible along the way from Phoenix, AZ up to Glacier Bay National Park. We're going to be pulling a small travel trailer witha 6 cyl SUV and are looking for suggestions for the best route and any special campgrounds along the way. As you can see, we need to start planning early....thanks for any input.