The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and invites everyone to join in the celebration. On 16 days in 2016, the National Park Service will waive entrance fees at all national parks from coast to coast. The entrance fee waiver doesn’t include user fees for camping, transportation, tours and other amenities.
“Fee-free days provide an extra incentive to visit a national park, especially during next year’s centennial celebration,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a press release. “We added extra fee-free days so that everyone has a chance to join the party. With locations in every state, finding a national park is easy. The hard part might be deciding which ones to visit.”
The first entrance fee-free day in 2016 is Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many national parks will host special events or volunteer service projects to honor Dr. King’s commitment to service and commemorate his life.
“We invite all Americans to honor the legacy of Dr. King in a national park,” said Jarvis. “Attend a special event, take part in a volunteer project, or visit a site with a direct connection to this great leader. We are all encouraged to remember the values of service and commitment to community that Dr. King exemplified throughout his life. Let’s make this holiday truly a day on, not a day off.”
Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2016:
January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 16 through 24: National Park Week
August 25 through 28: National Park Service Birthday
September 24: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”
Today, the National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 409 sites with 28 different designations, including national park, national historical park, national monument, national recreation area, national battlefield, and national seashore. These sites collectively contain more than 18,000 miles of trails, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, 247 species of threatened and endangered species, and 167 million museum items.
Almost 293 million people visited national parks in 2015. Those visitors spent $15.7 billion in local communities which supported 277,000 jobs and had a $29.7 billion effect on the economy.
Make your plans now to celebrate 100 years of the beauty and history with the National Park Service in 2016. Visit a national park, monument, recreation area, battlefield or seashore preserved and protected by the National Park Service this year.