Stepping onto a Yellowstone hiking trail for the first time felt as comfortable as being wrapped in my grandmother’s arms. I was 17 years old and it was a new experience being dwarfed by the grandness of the Rocky Mountains, inhaling the distinct geothermal odor of sulfur, and feeling the crispness of fresh mountain air.
Regular blog readers know how that summer vacation literally changed my life which is why I’m a big supporter of the national parks. Whether you have or have not been inspired by visiting a national park, I encourage you to visit one April 19 – 27, 2014 during National Park Week. Every American lives less than 100 miles from a national park experience so it should be relatively easy finding one near you.
Free National Park Admission April 19 & 20, 2014
Of the 401 national parks, 268 NEVER charge an entrance fee!
Kicking off National Park Week, all national parks are offering free admission April 19 and 20, 2014.
National Park Week Happenings
I love Disneynature films and just in time for National Park Week, “Bears” premiers on April 18. See the film during National Park Week and Disneynature will make a donation to the National Park Foundation which is the official charity of America’s national parks. View the “Bears” trailer on the NPF’s National Park Week webpage.
Several parks are offering activities during this celebration. Some have fees and some are free. For instance, on Saturday, April 19, you can visit the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (Georgia) to join in the Earth Week Campfire, Reptile Program, and Night Hike. Conquistador Hernando de Soto will come ashore at the De Soto National Memorial and claim Florida during the De Soto Landing. Learn how the racing history in and around the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area shapes the national park experience during a program called Mulholland, Miller, and Motor Sports.
Find an event by visiting the National Park Service website.
National Parks Positively Impact Our Economy
National parks aren’t just for tree hugging and picnicking, the system is good for our economy. For every $1 of American taxpayer money invested in the national parks, $10 is generated. *
Were you one of the 282 million who visited a national park in 2012? If you were, you supported some of the 243,000 jobs across the country generated by visitation into national parks. And, the economic impact on the nation’s economy was $26.75 billion. In the state of Florida, national parks welcomed more than 10.4 million visitors resulting in $788.4 million economic impact and that ain’t small potatoes..**
Now go on, find a park and find your inspiration.
*Source: National Park Service Press Release: “Secretary Jewell, Director Jarvis Release New Report Showing National Parks Remain Strong Economic Engines, Support 243,000 Jobs Nationwide,” March 3, 2014.
**Source: Source: National Park Serice, U.S. Department of the Interior, “2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States and the Nation”, Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR—2014/765, February 2014