As the snow melts and the weather warms up, you and your kids are probably itching to get outside. While the backyard and the neighborhood parks are fun, they lose their novelty soon enough. National Park Week, which takes place during the last week of April, is the answer to your kids’ pleas of “I’m bored!”
During this week, you can visit any of the approximately 400 national parks in the United States and enjoy free admission and special events. Because the event encompasses two weekends, you can visit several parks even if your child’s school vacation does not fall during the week of April April 15-16 and 22-23. Although we will be looking into some of the events being held at various national parks over the coming days and weeks, here are a few highlights that might appeal to you, depending on where you live (or plan to visit):
- To kick off the celebration, find out which day is Volunteer Day at the parks. This is a day when the parks recruit volunteers to help out all year long. Some opportunities might include answering questions at the information desk; giving nature walks or guiding campfires; helping to maintain the grounds by fixing fences, painting buildings and preserving the trails, and much more. Families can often volunteer together; children need signed permission forms. Show up at one of the parks on that day for more information, or call your local park to learn more about how you can help.
- The last day, is National Junior Ranger Day. On this day, kids can sign up to be junior park rangers, and will learn about preserving the parks; learn about the various aspects of nature, art, science or history presented by the park; learn how to explore the park at their own paces; and find out how to get the chance to earn certifications, badges and patches. Many parks have special hands-on activities for the kids to do in order to jumpstart their junior ranger program. Contact the park you plan to visit to be sure that it is participating in this program.
- Aside from the special events planned for this week, you can take advantage of the various nature walks, birding skills events, bicycle tours, photography opportunities and other programs that normally take place on the day of the week that you plan to visit.
To find out which events are taking place at the national parks closest to you (or to your vacation destination), you can visit the U.S. National Park Service website, or you can call the parks individually.
Do you plan on visiting a park during National Park Week? Which one(s)?