Fee-Free National Park Day: Celebrating Our Public Lands

Thousands of volunteers will pitch in to clean up parks over a single day.

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THERE ARE MANY WAYS... to approach visiting a national park or monument or historic site. You can go the rugged route, and climb, hike, swim, or ride a horse, or you can choose an easier, breezier path -- say, bird-watching, tea in a lodge, or simply picnicking in a meadow. Likewise, there are a few approaches to National Public Lands Day, which falls on Saturday, Sept. 28. It's a day to consider our gorgeous and vast and in-need-of-our-TLC lands, the lands we all share, so, yeah, it's a biggie on the nature lover's calendar, you betcha.

APPROACH ONE: National Public Lands Day is one of the treasured "Fee-Free Days" on the National Park Service's calendar. There are a handful each year -- just under two weeks' worth, give or take -- so fans of the treasures are out enjoying 'em (while stashing that cash). Not every national park charges an entrance fee, but dozens across the country do, like Yosemite. So while you should and can visit any park on Sept. 28, you might want to focus on those that normally charge admission.

APPROACH TWO: You can volunteer at a park on the 28th. This could mean clean-up, painting kiosks, planting trees, fence removal, trail maintenance, or any of the many tasks that keep our public lands looking their spiffiest. Each park and destination requires a little something different, so take a look at this list and find out if a) there's a park close to you and b) what is required is something you're up to do. The San Bernardino National Forest and Cleveland National Forest are two participating places. And there are coupons, too, for people who volunteer to help out a public land. Read more about the program, and find out how you can help.

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