• 55°

National parks celebrate week with free admission

As if you need another excuse to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all national parks — all 397 of them!

This year national park Week runs from April 21 through April 29.

While most parks are free and open to the public year round, over 100 parks charge a fee to enter.

The National Parks that usually charge admission includes the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the Everglades, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, and many more. But during National Park Week, all entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees are waived.

There will also be events throughout the week at various parks across the country, like Volunteer Day on April 21 where you can get your hands dirty with local projects.

Earth Day on April 22 and National Junior Park Ranger Day on April 28 is where and when kids can be sworn in as Junior Rangers.

Interested in volunteering at a national park? The simplest way is to contact the park directly.

Most locations will accept volunteers’ year around not just during certain promotional events.

Ohio has 10 national park sites scattered from the north shores of Lake Erie to the southern banks of the Ohio River. The state features national parks, heritage sites, scenic trails and much more.

Some relatively local options are Chillicothe’s Hopewell Culture Center, president William Howard Taft’s Cincinnati home and the Wright Brothers’ Nation Museum collection in Dayton.

The Hopewell Cultural Center shows off mounds of various shapes and enclosures often built in geometric patterns dot the landscape of the Ohio River Valley.

These earthen structures were doubtless the work of many human hands. Evidence suggests that Hopewell earthworks were used for a variety of ceremonial and social activities between 200 BC to AD 500.

Here you can learn about these sacred spaces and reflect upon the lives of their builders.

Home of the Wright brothers and long known as the Birthplace of Aviation, the Dayton region is now recognized as the National Aviation Heritage Area, in honor of the region’s leadership in our nation’s aviation history.

Today, it continues that heritage as one of the most significant regions in the world for aviation advancement.

High atop one of Cincinnati’s most prominent hilltops stands the two-story Greek revival house where William Howard Taft was born and grew up. Hard work, a good education, and an interest in civic duty are attributes that made the Taft family outstanding leaders over the years.

From the time of his birth in 1857 until he embarked on a political career that would win him the two highest offices in the nation-the presidency and a seat on the US Supreme Court William Howard Taft was a larger than life figure.

Venturing across state lines opens a larger inventory of venues. The themes range from history and heritage, art and architecture to splendid displays of nature.

For an American history buff I’d head east to Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

Many of the historic battlegrounds associated with the American Revolution and Civil War can be explored in these states. Early colonial and pioneer histories are abundant in this region too!

If you need trip ideas or inspiration the National Park Service’s web site www.nps.gov offers a wealth of suggestions. They also offer links to the communities surrounding their locations where you can find deals for lodging, restaurants, and tours.

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the NPS proudly safeguard these nearly 400 places and share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But the NPS work doesn’t stop there.

They are involved with tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens helping them revitalize their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.

Taking care of the national parks and helping Americans take care of their communities is a job we love, and we need and welcome your help and support.

Get out and enjoy a national park today!


Got travel? E-mail Steve Call at the travelprofessor@gmail.com or dial 740.550.9540.