Saturday, September 28 is National Public Lands Day in the U.S., and the National Park Service is celebrating it with an invitation to enjoy free access at all U.S. national parks, along with fee-free special events at most parks. The celebration started in 1991 as a 75th birthday celebration for the Park Service.
Since 112 of the 419 areas administered by the National Park Service charge fees, some of them up to $20 per person or $35 per car, it's a good opportunity for families to get better acquainted with parklands, especially if you can spend the day in one of the higher-fee parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite or Zion.
Of course, there's the rest of the year, and if you plan to be a regular park visitor, it's worth considering buying an annual or lifetime pass. The America the Beautiful pass, $80+$10 handling, gives free admission to passholder and passengers to all sites for a year.
If you're over 62, you can get the best bargain of all: the $80 fee buys a lifetime Senior Pass. Of course, it used to cost only $20, but it only takes a few uses to make it pay! There's also a $20 annual Senior Pass, and a free lifetime pass for disabled visitors. The $10 handling fee is only for mail order; you can save it by buying a pass at a park!
Photo: Bear 410 in Katmai National Park (NPS photo)