Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Passport to Your National Parks

I really wanted to get this post up in time for National Parks Week (April 16-24, 2016), but that just didn't happen for me. Summer vacation is just around the corner. I'm wrapping up final projects and starting to daydream about upcoming trips we've planned.

We're going to hit up a number of national parks this summer, and my in-laws were kind enough to send us a National Parks Pass! National Park Passes run $80 and are good for a year. They can be a great deal for people traveling to national parks and federal lands, but do your research first! Some national parks are free already, and others have low cost entry. However, there are other parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park which cost a $25 entry fee. Before you buy, check out prices and possibly look into other discounted passes. Senior citizens get discount passes, and families with 4th graders can apply to get a free pass!

We also picked up passports to the national parks. It's currently $9.95 to get a national parks passport, and it's $14.95 to get a national parks passport with a kids' passport companion. I'm a total dork, and I envision my kids keeping their parks passports to keep track of all the great parks and federal areas they see throughout their lives. My husband teased me a bit about that, so he didn't get his own $10 passport and is stuck sharing with me. I laid down the law!

This year's cover is a special edition because they're celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The passport to the national parks divides the country into different regions: North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, National Capital, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, Western, and Pacific Northwest. Every year, they release a set of stamps that highlights one park or historic site in each region, which you can order online or purchase from a visitor's center.

You'll also see an area for "official cancellations" in each region. Visitors can get a cancellation stamp in their national parks passport at hundreds of different national parks and historic sites. Click here to find a list, by state, of all the places you can visit to get a cancellation stamp:

The kids' companion book is a lot of fun, but it involves writing tasks and is best for school-aged children. There is a field journal section. Also, there is a section for kids to fill out a list of the mammals they see, the birds they see, and the plants & trees they see. There's also room for kids to create their own categories and lists. Finally, kids can keep track of the Junior Ranger programs they complete.

Enjoy some family and nature time this summer! I hope I helped inspire someone to check out a local or not-so-local national park or recreational area!

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