People making vacation or weekend getaway plans for next year, might want to keep some dates in mind. The Interior Department has announced dates in 2013, ranging from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Veterans Day, when more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and other federal lands will offer free admission.
The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
“Our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands offer every American a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, learn about our nation’s history and culture, and restore our souls and spirits by connecting with the natural beauty and wildness of our land,” Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said in a prepared statement. “By providing free admission, we are putting out an invitation to all Americans to visit and enjoy these extraordinary treasures that belong to all our people.”
“National parks and other public lands are becoming increasingly important for both our mental and physical health,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “In our fast-paced world, they provide places for good, old-fashioned social networking with others – places where we can relax and unwind, where we can experience new and different things, and where we can easily share thoughts and communal activities.”
Tourism and outdoor recreation also are economic engines in communities across the country. Recreation on federal lands in 2009 provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy.
Active-duty military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass that provides entrance to lands managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers a free lifetime pass for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and older and a $80 annual pass for the general public.
“America’s great outdoors should be experienced by everyone,” Salazar said in the statement. “Our fantastic network of public lands provides world class recreational opportunities, the chance to view abundant wildlife in natural habitats, sites that showcase our nation’s rich and diverse history, and some of the most incredible scenery found anyway. The fee free days will give both first time and repeat visitors a good reason to spend time in these extraordinary places.”
2013 fee free days
Here is a breakdown of the days and which agencies are offering free admission:
Jan. 21: Martin Luther King Jr. Day - The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will waive their entrance fees and the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation will waive their standard amenity fees.
April 22-26: National Park Week - National Park Service.
June 8: Get Outdoors Day - U.S. Forest Service
Aug. 25: 97th birthday of the National Park Service.
Oct. 13: National Wildlife Refuge Day - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Sept. 18: National Public Lands Day - National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.
Nov. 9-11: Veterans Day weekend - National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation