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#FindYourPark and Kick Off National Park Week With a Free Visit Saturday

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#FindYourPark and Kick Off National Park Week With a Free Visit Saturday
Mike Taube / Getty Images

If you are looking for something to do this Easter weekend, why not visit your nearest national park? All sites run by the National Park Service (NPS) will be free Saturday, April 20 as this year's National Park Week kicks off, USA Today reported.


National Park Week is a presidentially-mandated celebration of the nation's public lands that runs every April. This year, it falls between April 20 and 28. It is a joint effort of NPS and charity group the National Park Foundation, but anyone can get involved in a variety of ways, from donating to the parks to visiting and sharing photos and stories on social media.

"Every year, we invite you to join us and make a difference for the national parks and programs you love. Whether you give, share, join, or do all three, we're grateful that you are part of the parks community!" the National Park Foundation said on a webpage announcing the week.

Saturday, the first day of the week, is the only day on which the parks are free, but there are themed celebrations throughout the week.

Saturday, April 20, Junior Ranger Day

NPS invites children of all ages to learn about their favorite parks and earn their Junior Ranger badge.

"We don't care what age you are," NPS says, and it's true. A 103-year-old great-great-grandmother was sworn in as a Junior Ranger at the Grand Canyon this January.

Sunday, April 21, Military and Veteran Recognition Day

The U.S. Calvary acted as the first park rangers before the NPS was established. The nation's parks still celebrate service members and plan to honor them on this day.

Monday, April 22, Earth Day

Monday is Earth Day, so the parks are emphasizing their history as part of the conservation movement and their role as a place where Americans can come to connect with nature.

Tuesday, April 23, Transportation Tuesday

On Tuesday, NPS emphasizes how innovations in transportation technology, from trains to cars, have influenced how Americans access the parks. Now, transportation workers at NPS work to protect wildlife while enabling visitor access.

Wednesday, April 24, Wild Wednesday

This day celebrates the wildlife and wilderness preserved in the parks, urging visitors to camp, take hikes, observe plants and animals and do other outdoor activities.

Thursday, April 25, Throwback Thursday

NPS will celebrate Throwback Thursday by emphasizing the history preserved in the parks. Park lovers can participate online by posting side-by-side photos of past and present park visits under the hashtags #NationalParkWeek, #ThrowbackThursday, and #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque.

Friday, April 26, Friendship Friday

Friday focuses on all the ways visitors can become friends of the parks by volunteering or donating to a philanthropic organization that partners with the parks. Here is a directory of organizations if you want to get involved.

Saturday, April 27, BARK Ranger Day

Dogs are a park's best friends! This day celebrates the dogs who work to help protect the parks, and gives visitors info on how their pets can also earn a B.A.R.K. Ranger badge.

Sunday, April 28, ParkRx Day

Outdoor activity is an important boost to mental and physical health, and some doctors have started to make this official by prescribing national park visits to patients. The last day of National Park Week celebrates this growing trend.

Social Media

Throughout the week, there are opportunities to show your love for the national parks on social media. NPS is bringing back a park ranger emoji that will appear next to the hashtag #FindYourPark. You can also add a park-themed Facebook frame to your profile picture starting today. Just click on your image and choose "update," then "add frame," search for "National Park Service" and click save.

The first opportunity to get involved online starts today at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, as the NPS hosts a live-chat on Twitter.

This year's National Park Week comes after the parks had a difficult start to 2019. They were left open but understaffed during the government shutdown, causing "irreparable" damage to some parks.

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