Just a friendly reminder that June 21, the first day of summer, is only two weeks away and is a National Parks fee free day. That means that the entrance fee to the parks, monuments, preserves, recreation areas and other sites within the National Park system will be waived. Fee Free National Parks days are offered throughout the year. In addition to the first day of summer, National Parks will also be fee free on September 24 (Public Lands Day) and from November 11 – 13 (Veterans Day weekend) this year.
The fee free National Parks day on June 21, 2011 is good for free entrance to the parks in the National Parks system, but it doesn’t apply to other fees within the National Parks system such as reservation fees, camping fees, tour fees and concession fees. Most of the National Parks fee free days result in the National Parks being quite busy, but since the first day of summer falls on a Tuesday, it should be a great opportunity to visit a National Park for free with a minimal chance of large crowds. With the kids out for summer vacation, it may be a perfect day trip to plan.
When I visit National Parks, I find it hard not to take photos. Even though I am far from a professional photographer, I enjoy documenting what I see so that I can share it with others. If you have any interest in photography and our National Parks, you will want to know about the National Park Foundation’s 2011 Share the Experience photo contest.
Share the Experience is an annual photography competition which has the goal of encouraging all to share their National Parks experiences through photographs. The contest is open to everyone age 13 and older. Photos can be submitted online and by December 31, 2011 at ShareTheExperience.org. The following prizes are available for the National Parks photo contest:
Grand Prize: Trip to Recreation Area 4 days / 3 nights for 4 people, Magellan GPS eXploris 510, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass, $100 REI gift card and $500 in spending money
1st Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist 510, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card
2nd Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist 310, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card
3rd Prize: Magellan GPS eXplorist GC, Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card
Honorable Mention (10 winners): Federal Recreational Lands Interagency Pass and $100 REI gift card
Since the National Parks Photo Contest 2011 runs through the end of the year, there has been no announcement of the National Parks Photo Contest 2012 as of yet. As soon as we get information on the National Parks Photo Contest 2012, we will post it here.
As you travel among the National Parks System and see the many different National Parks and National Monuments, it won’t take long before you will wonder to yourself, “What is the difference between National Parks and National Monuments?” This is especially true when you realize that National Monuments that may not be as well known as National Parks hold just as much beauty and awe-inspiring sights as their National Park counterparts.
Although there has not been a steadfast criteria over the entire period that National Parks and National Monuments have been created, there’s a pretty specific set of criteria used today. The main difference is that National Parks are created through acts of congress and must be large enough for broad use by the public. National Parks should have inspirational, educational and recreational value. National Monuments, on the other hand, are made through declarations from the president and have historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.