Take Advantage of Free Entry in the National Parks This Weekend!


Sara Sheehy

Unique National Park Experiences to Discover This Weekend

Last year a record-breaking 330,971,689 people visited national parks, exploring what filmmaker Ken Burns calls “America’s best idea.” National parks are known for their beauty, but they also hold a treasure trove of unique experiences ready for you to discover.

There’s no better time to explore than this weekend, when the National Park Service throws open the gates of their 417 parks for the last free entrance days of 2017

Take a Dip in a Natural Hot Spring

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is famous for its geysers and thermal pools. The delicate formations made from superheated water are beautiful to look at but impossible to touch. Except, that is, for where the Gardner River mixes with the Boiling River hot spring. A quick ½ mile hike from the parking area leads to a public swimming hole that’s warm year round.

Explore Underground

Join rangers at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky for a walk past “Frozen Niagara,” a wall of rock that resembles its liquid namesake. A variety of tours run daily through the world’s longest cave system, including handicapped accessible tours and off-trail spelunking. Tours usually required advanced tickets, but the park is giving out a limited number of free tours this weekend for Veterans Day.

Sled on a Sand Dune

Who says you need snow to go sledding? At White Sands National Monument in New Mexico sledding is a year-round sport. Buy a sled from the Visitor Center or bring your own, then hop on a dune and see how far you can glide. Be sure to stick around for sunset to catch the pure white dunes turn shades of pink and blue.

On the hunt for more unique experiences in national parks? Check out taking the ferry to Channel Islands National Park, mountain biking through Big Cypress National Reserve, and apple picking at Capitol Reef National Park.

Feature image of Channel Islands National Park by Katie Yarborough.

Published: November 9, 2017

Sara SheehyExplorer

Writer | Nomad I Adventuress | Photographer

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

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