Celebrate America’s Greatest Treasures during National Park Week, April 20 – 28, 2013

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Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska, Aug. 2011

In the U.S. we don’t have grand, centuries-old castles as they do in Europe. We don’t have ancient temples as they do in Asia. Our greatest treasure is our National Park System. April 20 – 26, 2013 is National Park Week, a time to become acquainted or reacquainted with America’s crown jewels. You can set out on your own park adventure or find an event fitting your interests.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, Calif., April 2013

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, Calif., April 2013

Here are some fun facts about the national parks (Source: National Park Service)…

  • The Largest National Park – Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK – 13.2 million
  • The Smallest National Park – Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA – 0.02

The National Park Service Employs:

  • Permanent, Temporary, and Seasonal – Approximately 22,000 professionals
  • Volunteers in Parks – 221,000

The National Park Service Budget Is:

  • FY 2011 – $2.75 billion
  • FY 2012 Enacted – $2.98 billion
  • FY 2013 Requested – $2.99 billion

America’s National Parks include (Source: National Park Foundation)

  • 17,000 miles of trails
  • 43,000 miles of shoreline
  • 12,000 campsites
  • There are 401 parks within the United States and every American is less than 100 miles from a national park experience!
Cumberland Island National Seashore Main Road, Nov. 2010

Cumberland Island National Seashore Main Road, Nov. 2010

National Park Admission
Did you know 268 of the 401 national parks never charge an entrance fee?

  • An Annual Pass grants access into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Cost: $80
  • Members of the U.S. Military can pick up a free annual pass at a Federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173)
  • Senior Pass is $10 for a Lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 years old and older.
  • For additional information about these and more passes, visit the American the Beautiful Land Pass Series webpage at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm

Free National Park Admission!
Monday, April 22 – Friday, April 26, 2013, national parks will waive all entrance fees!

Enjoy Wildlife from a Distance During National Park Week (Photo: Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tenn.)

Enjoy Wildlife from a Distance During National Park Week (Photo: Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tenn.)

Economic Significance of Our National Parks
Why should we care about our national parks? Not only are they preserving geological, biological and cultural treasures, they are economically significant to local economies.

Our national parks welcomed 279 million visitors in 2011 who generated $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported 252,000 jobs across the country. Even more promising for 2012, the national park system welcomed 282.8 million visitors indicating an increase over 2011. (Source: Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, “National Parks Serve as Powerful Economic Engines for Local Communities, Supporting 252,000 Jobs”, Feb. 25, 2013)

Thirty billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The 2011 National Park Service budget was $2.75 billion which means the return on investment (ROI) is nearly 1:11; one dollar spent generated about $10.95 in return. Does your savings account do that?

Families plan for years for a national park vacation and some travel across the globe to visit our national parks. These visitors spend in local communities and support the economy. Unfortunately, the National Park Service has been and is a target for significant budget cuts. If our national parks aren’t protected as intended, we’ll leave valuable resources and people will stop visiting. When people stop visiting, who will spend money in those local communities? Can we as a country afford to lose more than $30 billion dollars in economic impact?

Which National Park Will You Visit Next?

Which National Park Will You Visit Next?

Additional information

Disclosure: I spent 10 years of my life living in three national parks for a park management company so this subject is near and dear to my heart. This post contains an affiliate link with hopes to maintain this blog and support my traveling habit.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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2 Comments

  1. We’ve been to many of the Natl. Parks. Used to camp and hike alot when we were younger. We had our Park Passport thing, but after our daughter stopped going with us we got bad about remembering to take our book and get it stamped.

    Beautiful pictures. Think a couple of my favorites would be Tetons, and Zion in the winter.

    Thought I’d add you to my blog log to make visiting easier, perhaps you’ll do the same.

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