Last summer when I posted about the merits of a national park family vacation, an annual national park pass was only $80. Surprisingly thats still the cost, and as I noted it still might be a good bet even if your broods only hitting one park, since per-person park admission fees can add up.
The good news is that if youre heading next week to one of the 100-plus parks, like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, that do levy per-person or per-vehicle fees, April 16 to 24 is National Park Week, when all the parks that normally charge waive their entrance fees.
Also good news is that several hotels, restaurants, and shops will be offering discounts during these fee-free days, a fact brought to my attention by the not-for-profit National Parks Promotion Council (www.nationalparksonline.org), which lists a bunch of these offers on its site.Another bonus is that during National Park Week and beyond, your kids can split into age-appropriate groups to earn Junior Ranger badges at selected national parks for free or for a nominal fee. Junior rangers in training are encouraged to engage in at least one physical activity, a nod to First Lady Michelle Obamas Lets Move (www.letsmove.gov) initiative to end childhood obesity. One more admirable aspect of the Junior Ranger program is that several activities require kids to record their thoughts about what theyre experiencing, which, at the risk of sounding like a preachy parent, is something your kids ought to be doing on family vacations anyway.
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