Ten days from now beginning Monday April 22 through Friday April 26 you can enter over 400 National Parks with no admission fee during National Park Week.
Did you know…that from Monday, April 22 – Friday, April 26, the national parks waive all entrance fees? So, whether it is your first trip, or the latest of many memorable park experiences, there couldn’t be a better time to get out and explore!
Together, we are owners, protectors and lovers of this land. Whether you are visiting, volunteering or interested in sharing your experience with the world, below you will find all the resources you need to make your National Park Week trip a memorable one.
Many National Parks have no admission fees anyway and other places charge a low $5 to $10 fee for an admission pass usually good for seven days. Yosemite charges $20 per car and Yellowstone $25 per car for 7 days.
An annual pass is $80. I currently have a National Parks annual pass.
This Desert Life
National Parks have been on my mind this past week as I mapped out a month of May road trip to Colorado with the option to visit many National Parks and National Monuments in the southwestern U.S.
Here are a sample of parks I can route myself nearby to visit over the course of a 12-day trip:
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
- Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Arizona
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
- Navajo National Monument, Arizona
- Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
- Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado
- Santa Fe National Historical Trail, New Mexico and several other states
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
Many American travelers go to Europe, Middle East and Asia to see centuries old castles and grand structures from one thousand years ago. We tend to think of the USA as a young country with limited history, yet there are several places with 1,000 year old dwellings in the deserts of the southwest states preserved in our National Park lands.
Reading about the Sante Fe National Historical Trail on the National Park Service website led to the discovery for me of a historical hotel on the roads in New Mexico.
St. James (Don Diego) Hotel, Cimarron
Location:Corner of S. Collinson Avenue (New Mexico Highway 21 or Santa Fe Trail) and 17th Street in Cimarron’s “old town”
Hours:unrestricted. The hotel is open year round
Historical Significance:Henri Lambert, who had been President Abraham Lincoln’s personal chef, established a saloon here in 1872. By 1880, the saloon had evolved into the 2-story, Adobe Street James Hotel. As a vital outpost of the Santa Fe Trail, Cimarron and the St. James are linked to early land grant settlers, ranchers, and desperados, including such notables as settlers Lucien Maxwell and Carlos Beaubien, Buffalo Bill Cody and his cohort Annie Oakley, Kit Carson, Frank and Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Blackjack Ketchum. The notorious gunman Clay Allison allegedly danced naked on the bar. The bar, once part of the present dining room, still has bullet holes in its pressed tin ceiling.
Available Facilities:The hotel is open for self-guided walking tours and is described in the chamber of commerce’s walking tour booklet.
To learn more: www.stjamescimarron.com or www.cimarronnm.com/historicscenic.html
Santa Fe National Historical Trail is one of 19 national historic trails in the National Trails System.
No need to go far into the countryside for national parks
National Parks are not necessarily grand wonders of nature situated dozens of miles from the nearest town. The sidebar on my web browser showed three parks in my area of California.
Pinnacles National Park is on the eastern side of the Salinas Valley. I have not been there in over 30 years. This park is the rural country of Monterey County and San Benito County, California. This location is one where California condor sightings are a potential experience.
Pinnacles National Park was to be expected, yet there was also a listing for Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site. I associate Eugene O’Neill with New York.
“In the early 1900’s, at this site stood The Golden Swan, also known as the Hell Hole, one of Eugene O’Neill’s inspirations for Harry Hope’s saloon in “The Iceman Cometh,” which opened at our Circle in the Square Theater at Sheridan Square on May 8, 1956.” – Golden Swan Garden. This photo is one I took September 2012 in The Village, New York City.
Turns out Eugene O’Neill wrote “The Iceman Cometh” while living in the hills above Danville, California in Tao House from 1937 to 1944. This far East Bay town is one of the wealthiest zip codes in California. Danville is about a 120-mile drive from my home. This is a park I would like to visit.
One of the newest national parks is one I passed by in January 2013, but the sign caught me off guard as I sped by in my car heading to Las Vegas on California Highway 58 east of Bakersfield. César E. Chávez National Monument designated as a unit of the National Park System, October 8, 2012.
I’ll drive a little slower heading up the Highway 58 Tehachapi Pass when I pass by the eye-blink town of Keene again next month and pay my respects to the civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. Farmworker life is still rough living.
More on National Parks, American Indian life and pioneers next month…unless I decide to fly to Colorado for $250 instead. Flying is certainly the quicker route, but far less opportunity to experience nature, meet Americans living in different locales, learn history and visit hotels.
It looks like Choice Hotels and Best Western Hotels will be in my hotel stay future if this road trip plans out to fruition.