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NPS announces fee-free dates for 2011

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that the U.S. National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011. 

The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 15 to 17), National Park Week (April 16 to 24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11 to 13).

“Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011,” Salazar said. “There’s no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle.”

Salazar noted that with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year.

“In these tough economic times, our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation’s heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways,” he said.

The first fee free days are centered on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service director. “They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.”

“Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 17,” added Jarvis. “It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service -- a day on, not a day off.” 

Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee free days, saving visitors money on food, lodging, tours and souvenirs.

According to the National Park Service, the fee waiver applies to entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees, such camping, tours and fees collected by third parties, are not included unless stated otherwise at the parks.

Many of the 394 national parks never charge an entrance fee. 

More information: www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

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