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5 free days to visit a national park

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                El Capitan strikes a majestic pose while bathed in moonlight.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    El Capitan strikes a majestic pose while bathed in moonlight.

One of the terrific things about the National Park Service — aside from its incredible duty to serve as the caretaker of America’s greatest outdoor spaces — is the annual designation of five days during the course of the year that are free to the public.

Those five days have been announced for 2020.

>> Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

>> April 18: First day of National Park Week (a weeklong celebration of all parks)

>> Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday

>> Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day

>> Nov. 11: Veterans Day

On those five days, you can visit any national park across the country without paying an entrance fee.

Full disclosure — three-quarters of America’s national parks are already free, according to Travel+Leisure. Of the 419 National Parks, 308 do not require an entrance fee.

That said, the remaining 111 are among the most popular and most visited — think Yosemite National Park — and charge anywhere from $5 per car to $35 per vehicle as an entrance fee.

Travel+Leisure also noted that the 111 parks that do charge fees use that money to benefit the parks themselves — 80% of the money stays with the park where you paid the fee, and 20% goes to the other 308 parks that do not charge an entrance fee.

The magazine also made a great point that if you plan to visit several national parks in 2020, consider getting the America the Beautiful pass for $80. The pass allows you to visit hundreds of national parks and federal recreational lands for a year without paying entrance fees.

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