|Zion National Park, Utah|
I'm writing from Bryce Canyon National Park, having just finished an 8-mile hike through some of the most breathtaking scenery I've ever seen (more on that later!), so what better subject to cover than the fee-free National Park Week that's going on right now at the nearly 400 National Parks scattered all across the country! Matt and I already have an annual pass, but for those of you who don't often get the time to get out and enjoy these areas of natural beauty, this week might be just the perfect opportunity.
From now until April 24th, National Parks are offering free admission (which can add up to huge savings, in some cases), and many boast further discounts in their on-site stores and extra Ranger programs to help you get the most out of your visit.
In the past couple of weeks, Matt and I have explored a wide variety of sites - from the Grand Canyon and the lesser known, but still awesome, Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, to Death Valley in California, and Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah. Each has something different and exciting to offer and I plan on doing a more detailed review of each in the weeks to come - perhaps when I'm able to stop lurking outside of buildings or buying lots of unnecessary coffees in order to connect to the internet!
|Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CA|
While I know not everyone can make a quick trip to the Grand Canyon or Death Valley this week, I encourage you to get online and see if there are any National Parks in your area that you've yet to explore. Most parks are experiencing increased traffic this week, due to the promotion, but you can work around this quite easily by arriving early and choosing sites or trails that are less populated or more challenging. Matt and I have tried the longest or most "strenuous" route at each site and have encountered few other hikers and no real crowds.
If you can't take advantage of this special week, or just don't relish the idea of fighting the crowds, there are lots of State Parks that offer a great experience which may be less hectic and less expensive during regular fee periods. The Annual Pass also represents a great value, if you're planning on visiting more than a handful of parks in the space of a year. In any case, warming temperatures and gradually longer days offer the perfect excuse to get outside and explore - take advantage of this fee-free week if you can!
|Waterfall crossing in Zion National Park, Utah|