One could argue that the creation of National Parks was one of America's greatest ideas — offering up more than 400 natural gems across the country, every day to everyone, some for a small fee. While fees are generally minimal and necessary to keep parks beautiful for years to come, not everyone wants to pay the gas to drive to their exploration destination on top of a fee to camp, and then admission fees at every place they decide to go visit. Lucky for Floridians, you'll have a chance to get into all National Parks in Florida for free this weekend.
Saturday, April 22 will kick off the celebrations as the first day of National Park Week as only one of the few fee-free days to be offered this year. Other dates Sunshine Staters can explore for free include August 4, September 23, and November 11.
The nixing of admission fees offers avid hikers and local nature lovers alike the opportunity to soak in the sights of the Sunshine State landscape by either checking out new places on their bucket lists or appreciating old favorites, especially at places that would normally charge for entry.
And Florida has 11 National Parks waiting to be uncovered; whether you're looking for forest trails, beach sanctuaries, watery wonder worlds, traveling back in time at historic ruins, or something in-between, there's a little something for every type of Sunshine State explorer.
Six of Florida's 11 National parks are free year-round, including Canaveral National Seashore, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, and Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Places that will be free this Saturday, April 22 include Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, De Soto National Memorial, Fort Caroline at Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, and Fort Matanzas National Monument.
Fee-free days don't cover other amenity fees such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours you may take. However, according to the National Park Service, a minimum of 80% of what you pay stays in the park where it was collected — and the ways that the money is used may bring you peace of mind.
Your dues go toward things such as repair, maintenance, and facility enhancements directly related to the visitor experience, much-needed redesigns of visitor centers, restroom and parking construction, repairs to struggling monuments, habitat restoration efforts, law enforcement related to public use, direct operational costs, and so much more.
Every park will need the money for something different depending on the locations needs. To foster transparency about how their fees help keep America's National Parks Beautiful, The National Park Service has put together an interactive map that allows viewers to click on green pins making locations across the country to learn more.
To see how your money is being used at each park, you can access the map on the National Park Service's website here.
Article by Rachael Volpe