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What’s New in the National Parks

From Arizona to Alaska, we’ve got the latest National Park Service news about Pee-Wee Rangers, the annual BioBlitz, Civil War Sesquicentennial events—plus fee-free days for savings.


There’s so much more to America’s national parks than the grand western icons like Yosemite and Yellowstone an summer’s the perfect time to explore. Fodor’s has got the got information and inspiration to help you plan your next parks trip.

Fee-Free Days for Savings

Some 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.

Learn more about Parks Passes and Budgeting your Park Trip.


New Pee-Wee Ranger Program

America’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 Park

Whether 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.

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Civil War Sesquicentennial Events

The 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:

Learn more with our 15 State Guide to Civil War Sesquicentennial Travel.

Photo Credits: Courtesy National Park Service

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