A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how stir crazy many of us were feeling and how going to the park could ease the pandemic’s stress. We wrote about the fact that parks are operating differently than they usually do. Even though they are different, they can still be a welcome break. Getting outside can help you relax. Additionally, many of us have missed out on much-needed exercise while staying at home for the sake of our health.
However, for years the national parks have been in desperate need of upkeep. Campgrounds, bathrooms, bridges, trails, roads and more need help. The Grand Canyon alone needs $104 million to fix its water supply system. Now, a massive injection of money is giving the parks a big boost. The money will allow them to fix their infrastructure.
“This is a truly historic commitment to revitalize and restore national parks and other public lands in order to expand recreational opportunities and address long-overdue infrastructure and modernization challenges,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “This enormous investment will enhance national parks for present and future generations.”
Our team has all ways been enthusiasts about getting out into the world, seeing our beautiful country and getting a breath of fresh air. Knowing that the parks are being protected for our grandchildren’s grandchildren makes us so happy! The money helps protect the land, create jobs and make the parks more welcoming to visitors.
The money is also going to help do something we really like: add another free day! Some national parks are always free; others have entrance fees. One hundred and nine parks have a price to enter, the fee ranges from $5 to $35. The other 310 are free all the time.
We understand the need for entrance fees to help keep the parks running, but it’s always nice to be able to visit for free! You can visit for free next Tuesday, Aug. 25, Sept. 26 and Nov. 11 for free! Those dates are the National Park Service’s birthday, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day.
This year, more than ever, people are trying to get out and about after months spent cooped up. “The public has rediscovered the outdoors,” said Linda Bilmes, who served on two national park advisory panels. “There is a groundswell of support for the idea that we should protect our national treasures.”
Many years, the National Park Service’s Birthday is celebrated not just with fees being waived but also with special events. However, this year, with COVID-19, things are a little different. The free day still is a great way to explore the parks you might otherwise avoid, but there might not be big events.
“Our park staff are working every day on the front lines to ensure visitor safety while protecting the integrity of the fundamental resources of Zion National Park for generations to come,” said Mark Preiss, director of the Zion Forever Project. “Frankly, in this complicated time, we are not thinking about the park’s birthday, we’re focused on sustaining the mission of the park.”
“The staff is focused on supporting the current operation so that the park can continue expanding opportunities for the public,” added Jeff Axel, Zion National Park spokesperson. They are trying to reopen main trails and campgrounds.
While it might not be “business as usual” in the parks, it is exciting to know that we will be seeing an additional free day and that our nation’s “best idea” is secure for the future!