National Park Week here in the U.S., and to celebrate all of the parks are waving their entry fees for visitors this weekend. Additionally, many parks will have a number of activities planned for the week ahead as well, including events to commemorate Earth Day on Wednesday too.
The national parks have been called "America's Best Idea," and rightfully so. These amazing outdoor settings are amongst the best in the entire world, and have spurred numerous other nations to protect their natural landscapes too. Yellowstone became the first national park in the world back in 1872, and Yosemite would follow a couple of decades later. Both remain amazing examples of the natural beauty that can be found in the western United States, and I for one appreciate that someone had the foresight to protect these places.
You will no doubt find plenty of online articles and blog posts providing suggestions on how you could celebrate National Park Week. The National Park Foundation has one here, and your's truly wrote another one for About.com that can be read here. But the bottomline is that over the course of the next week – if at all possible – you should get outside and enjoy a one of these great places. With more than 400 units in the U.S. park system, there is almost assuredly one semi-close to where you live. And to help you locate where they are, the new Find Your Park website will certainly come in handy.
I know there are a lot of readers of this blog who are not from the U.S. of course, but considering that many nations across the planet have designated national parks, now is a good time to visit one of yours as well. National Park Week may be an American event, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate your parks too. In my experience, if a destination has been designated as a protected park, it probably is a place worth visiting.
As for me, I have to forego my national park visits for a few more weeks. I'm heading out of the country tomorrow, and won't be around to take part in the celebration. But at the end of May I'll be heading out to visit Yosemite, Sequoia and King's Canyon, and I'm looking forward to that experience. Until then, I'll just have to be patient and wait for my chance.