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  1. Default FREE admission to National Parks!

    I just read this on another board. My dates are locked in, so it doesn't help me, but I hope it'll be useful to someone else:

    The National Park Service has announced that it will be offering free admission to ALL its fee-for-entry parks and monuments--including the Grand Canyon and Yosemite--on three weekends this summer: June 20-21, July 18-19, and August 15-16.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default caught that too

    I noticed that story today too.

    It seems like kind of an odd and random act, but I guess we can call this the vacation bailout. I'd rather take a couple billion, but at least its something.

  3. Default

    It IS kind of a stimulus package, isn't it?

    If you read this and say, "Hey, we've been talking about going to ____. This is the perfect excuse!", you're going to spend more money on the trip: gas, meals, camping fees, etc. And if it boosts interest in national parks, then that's a good thing from the NPS point of view.

    At the same time, it doesn't really "cost them" much. I mean, they aren't going to hire more rangers or build more trails because of increased patronage on these days.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Good find.

    They have kept it quiet low key on the NPS website, as in it's on the home page but rather than a big "splash" you need to read the small print, lol!

    For anyone interested this is the list of 100 free fee parks for the 3 weekends previously listed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Crowds

    Well, for the National Park junkies like me, those would be the weekends to avoid. There could be a mass influx of visitors looking to save a buck, especially at the popular NPs. If you don't mind navigating through a sea of vehicles and people then it's all right, but don't expect to go there and take pictures without at least a dozen people in each shot, haha. Of course, that's only if the fee-free promotion is heavily advertised. But a quick Google search shows a number of local articles about it published for this week.

    If I were to take advantage of it, my strategy would be to visit one of the more-remote or less-popular destinations. You can forget the Grand Canyon and/or Yellowstone. That could potentially be total madness. The smaller National Monuments may be a better deal. I'd personally go to Glen Canyon NRA since I haven't been there yet, and it's plenty big enough to handle anyone who wants to brave the heat.

    In all, fee-free may be OK for the casual traveler that just wants to go check it out with the fam, but be prepared to have a lot of company. It's definitely not for national park enthusiasts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Right on, Kinless!

    And an enthusiast probably already has their annual park pass anyway, right?

    It will be interesting to see how this effects trave and attendancel on those weekends though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default limited audience

    What would stand out to me is that there are huge segments of the population that really aren't going to be in any position to take advantage anyway.

    If you live out west, then certainly, you'll have your pick of places where you could go and visit over a weekend trip, but many of the parks out east don't charge an admission fee or the fee is very small.

    The closest NM to my house is about 100 miles away in eastern Iowa, and while I could go visit it, the admission is a whopping $3! Several of the next closest parks don't charge any fee at all. I'd have to go all the way out to the Badlands, which is just too far for any weekend trip, and at that point, I'd probably want to be there for more than just a weekend anyway!

    What this will be a nice treat for are those people who do have a National Park in their backyard, but since it is always there and there is no time pressure to visit, they never make it out there. Hopefully some people will get out and be a tourist in their own back yard!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default I'm a mooch

    Quote Originally Posted by PNW Judy View Post
    And an enthusiast probably already has their annual park pass anyway, right?
    My Dad's got his Golden Age Pass. And since I only take road trips with the folks, well... :)

    I figure a lot of the usual enthusiasts may have skipped out on the pass this year due to the economy and staying home, even if they do have parks and monuments in their backyard.
    Last edited by Kinless; 06-05-2009 at 10:38 AM.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    What would stand out to me is that there are huge segments of the population that really aren't going to be in any position to take advantage anyway.
    That's absolutely true. From my house, exactly ONE national park is do-able on a 3-4 day weekend.
    Quote Originally Posted by PNW Judy View Post
    And an enthusiast probably already has their annual park pass anyway, right?
    I'm not so convinced that this thing is a great deal. We're leaving soon for a 2.5 week trip out west, and you'd think the annual pass would be a no-brainer -- it's essentially a break-even thing for us. If we should happen to fall behind our schedule and miss a park, we'll lose money on the annual pass.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Maybe a great deal for enthusiasts

    I envision an enthusiast being someone who is going to be visiting numerous parks over the course of a year, or maybe just a couple of parks numerous times. Either way, for someone like that, the pass would pay for itself.

    Like you, I only have one park close to me where a pass is required for entrance (Mt. Rainier) as there are scads of great places at Olympic National Park that don't require a park's pass to get to so I only buy one if we plan on going to enough places to make use of it.

    And, remember, the pass is inter-agency allowing for entrance at more than national parks as it also covers Forest Service, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation and US Fish & Wildlife sites (although not all of these charge fees, some do). Some of you might get more use of it than you think if you go to these types of locations.

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