How to Celebrate National Parks Week

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Just in case you need an excuse to get outside, the National Park Service is offering free entry to all national parks in celebration of America’s most beautiful spaces and places during National Parks Week.

The celebration will take place from Saturday, April 16, through Sunday, April 24, and free entry to all 126 national parks that usually charge entry fees will be honored on April 15–16 and April 22–23.

Aside from free days, the NPS has partnered with the National Park Foundation (the official charity of the national parks) to create other opportunities for folks to get outdoors and enjoy it. Since April 22 is Earth Day, the NPS has organized several location-specific events, such as the Earth Day Electronics Recycling Collection at Point Reyes National Seashore, native tree planting with park ecologists in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Shenandoah National Park’s “John Muir — University of the Wilderness” concert.

Don’t know where to start exploring? The NPS has made it a lot easier to plan your adventure with their updated “Explore Parks” search feature, which breaks down every park from trails to current weather, as well as tour and camping info so you can spend less time fussing over your trip and more time actually taking it.

The NPS has stretched their tech reach beyond their website updates by additionally creating a new ranger emoji when you Tweet using the hashtag #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque so NPS supporters, and park goers can share their digital adventures across the country. The #FindYourPark “Instameet” on April 23 will allow visitors, parks, NPS programs, and partners to gather together for a virtual centennial celebration by gathering everyone in a designated place at a specific time to take photos and short videos to post on Instagram (and other social media) with the hashtags #FindYourParkInstaMeet, #FindYourPark, #EncuentraTuParque, and #NPS100.

Can’t get inside any park gates? There are other ways to celebrate the NPS through a few of their sponsored partners that are offering products and deals that both benefit and endorse National Park Week. From April 10–23, TomTom is donating five dollars for every Adventurer GPS watch sold to the National Park Foundation. Virtual Running Club is hosting 5K, 10K, and half marathon virtual races along with Vacation Races that will benefit the NPF. Parks Project — an apparel company that funds and promotes projects to restore national parks — is donating 10 percent of the sales from a limited-edition gift bundle, which includes a towel and journal, to the NPF. Additionally, everyone’s favorite go-to adventure sandals, Chaco, are donating 5 percent of sales from custom-made sandals to the NPF.

Of course, you can always show your support by donating directly to the National Parks through the National Park Foundation’s donation page