Free entry to national parks and forests on National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24, 2016)

How will you celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 24? You can hug a tree, clean up a trail or share a spectacular moment in nature with family and friends — all without paying to enter national parklands.

The idea for the one-day event started 23 years ago when the National Environmental Education Foundation challenged Americans to come out and volunteer on its public lands. Federal parklands will be organizing cleanups, trail repairs and other volunteer activities.

Meanwhile visitors can skip the $20 to $30 entrance fee at the fee based national parks. (There are more than 400 units overseen by the National Park Service but only 124 charge fees.)

In addition, the U.S. Forest Service also observes National Public Lands Day with fee-free entry. You won’t have to buy or display an Adventure Pass at the national forests that charge fees.

Federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management also are waiving fees on Sept. 24.

One word of caution: The fee-free entry applies only to entrance fees to federal parklands. State Parks, for example, aren’t participating in Public Lands Day and will be charging entrance fees. This also will not cover backcountry camping permits and other fee-based activities.


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