On August 25, the National Park Service celebrates their anniversary! On that date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the NPS. Today, there are over 400 areas that make up the National Park Service and on the National Park Service birthday entry fees are waived! There is an NPS site in every state, as well as the District of Columbia and 5 of the US territories. So, no matter where you live, recreation opportunities are available nearby.
While travel may look different this year, there are still many opportunities to recreate responsibly when visiting our National Parks. Here are a few tips to make the most of your National Park vacation:
Plan in advance: booking your lodging and making a plan well in advance of your trip is always recommended. Staying in a National Park Lodge is a great way to experience the park as you can simply wake up and head out for a pre-breakfast hike without spending time and gas driving in from an outlying community. Many National Parks also offer unique and historical lodging, such as Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park, Crater Lake Lodge in Crater Lake National Park and The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park.
- Check, check and recheck: if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that travel conditions can change rapidly. In any year it’s a good practice but be sure to always check the National Park Service website before heading out for any alerts or travel advisories.
Keep your social distance: lodging and dining operations in the National Parks have been updated in light of COVID-19. You may also find that trails are one-way, or that visitation volume is limited. Be sure to respect those new rules and guidelines and wash your hands, cover your face and maintain social distances from others.
- Respect local communities: many people such as NPS and park concessioner employees live in the National Parks. Most of the time, they are living in a somewhat remote location and medical facilities may be limited. As such, if you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone with illness, be sure to be safe and stay at home for the time being. The park will still be there for you in the future!
Follow Leave No Trace principles during your visit: if you’re not yet familiar with the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, it’s a great idea to learn more before your visit. These practices can be used anywhere – from your backyard camping adventure to recreating in our National Parks.
- Share your travel experience: there are many travel related communities and hashtags on social media. We’re partial to the use of #NationsVacation of course, but also enjoy exploring park-specific social media channels and larger online communities.