From April 15th through April 23rd, the National Park Service celebrates National Park Week, an annual celebration of ‘enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks’.
Obviously, we here at Resource Travel are big fans of the United States National Parks (just check out some of these incredible photos and stories), so we wanted to give you some reasons why this would be a great week to support YOUR National Parks and the National Park Foundation.
Also, we will be sharing National Park specific content all week to celebrate, so make sure to sign up for our newsletter to get a recap of the Resource Travel’s National Park Week!
Admission is free
Yup, you heard that right. This weekend, April 22-23, admission to all National Parks is free! Last time I checked, I think a day pass to a National Park is around $20 per car, so spend that $20 on a campground instead! But even though this weekend is free, if you plan on visiting a National Park or two in the next 12 months, you cannot beat the Annual Pass that will get you into every National Park and monument for 12 months, for only $80. And are you a current member of the military or a dependent of a military member? Well, then how about a free annual pass? Are you 62 and over? How about a $10 Lifetime pass? The incredible rock bottom prices of Park passes just further prove that these National Parks belong to us, the people.
Zion National Park, Utah
The skies will be extra dark, making the stars look extra amazing
For both photographers and star gazers, this weekend will be one of the best of the month to look up to the skies and see millions of stars. For starters, all U.S. National Parks are far away from major cities, which are the cause of enormous light pollution. The National Park interiors are built with as little light as possible, therefore giving visitors access to some of the darkest night skies in the country. And this weekend’s moon status will just contribute to those incredible dark night skies, as the moon doesn’t rise until after 5am on both Saturday and Sunday, guaranteeing an exciting view of millions of stars providing the weather cooperates. And photographers will be happy with the fact that the Milky Way’s bright center will become visible at 1:30am, granting us some great early season Milky Way conditions.
Yosemite National Park, California
They won’t be too crowded
Being that it is late April and much of the U.S. is still thawing out from the record-setting winter we experienced, don’t expect to wear your shorts and t-shirt to many of the National Parks this week. But, as a fair trade off for wearing layers, you won’t have to be surrounded by too many other visitors who are scared off by chilly weather, and the fact that many people used vacation time for Easter Weekend. In the summer, for better or for worse, U.S. National Parks can get a little crowded. Personally, I try to avoid more popular parks in the summer and try to go to some lesser visited parks, BLM land, or State Parks. In 2016, 331 million people visited National Parks, which is up 7.7 percent, or 24 million visitors from 2015. The trend is expected to continue, which has led to some discussion about smaller parks limiting the number of daily visitors. So in other words, this week will be a great time to visit if you prefer to avoid big crowds, but as the weather gets warmer each week, expect to have alot of new friends around you as you explore the parks.
Spring has some amazing sunrises and sunsets
I am no scientist, and I failed to find scientific proof, but I have always thought that Sping had some of the most colorful skies of any season. Andy Towle from Digital Photo Buzz backs my assumption up, although Fall is pretty amazing too. But whichever is scientifically better, there is no denying that we are going to be getting some great sunsets as Spring mid-day thunderstorms break up as the sun lowers to the horizon. And obviously, with some of the incredible foregrounds that National Parks provide, photographers of all levels should walk away with some steller shots this week, whether it is with an expensive DSLR or an iPhone.
It’s Wild Flower Season
When I think of Spring, I think of Baseball, BBQ’s and Wildflowers. And the National Parks have some incredible wildflowers that are either blooming now or will be soon. From Death Valley in California to Acadia in Maine, most National Parks have some form of wildflowers, and after this wet winter, they should be pretty incredible.
It’s the perfect place to contribute your time while you celebrate Earth Day
National Park Week just happens to fall over Earth Day, which is April 22nd. What better way to celebrate Earth Day then by volunteering to help keep the National Parks clean and safe for all to use? Check out volunteer opportunities or make a donation to help preserve the parks in celebration of Earth Day. But if you can’t do either of those, just make sure to get outside to hike, bike or road trip to celebrate Earth Day. And if you are near a National Park, there are few better places to appreciate the beauty of the Earth.
Get the Kid’s off of the iPad and into Nature
Let’s face it, in this digital day in age, most children spend more time looking at a screen than an outdoor landscape, especially one in a National Park. In fact, 6th graders in a UCLA study performed almost three years ago said they spent more than four hours a day either texting, playing video games or watching television. I can’t imagine what a 2017 study would look like. So while this week is a great time to introduce children to our beautiful National Parks, don’t let it be a one time thing. Try to get them outside as much as possible, even if not to a National Park.
National Parks are some of the most beautiful and peaceful places on the planet
It really is hard to believe that in this fast paced and crazy world, quiet and solitude still exists in the remarkable landscapes that live in the National Parks. I cannot count how many times a solo adventure to a National Park cleared my head of the stress of everyday life. Put the phone down, put the headphones away and just sit and listen to the quietness and natural sounds that surround you while you take in some of the most amazing scenery in the United States.
Yosemite National Park, California
Who Knows How long they will be around…
Obviously, we are in a very strange time in the United States. Alot has changed regarding the status of the country’s National Parks in the last 100 days. A budget proposal is calling for a 12% slash of funding for the Department of Interior, which manages the National Parks. Additionally, an executive order signed in late March makes it much easier for oil and gas companies to drill in National Parks. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess how the next four years will play out for the National Parks, but it is obvious the Trump administration will not be continuing Obama’s environmental policy, which protected 550 million acres in his eight-year administration. So really, what better time is there than now to visit as many of the 59 United Stats National Parks as possible? They may never be the same…
Yosemite National Park, California