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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Nation/World

National Parks Offer Free Entry

National Parks have free days for Americans.

National parks will waive their entrance fees on select days to encourage Americans to explore the nation’s natural beauty, according to officials.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Monday the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 days for 2012. These days include Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, National Park Day and Veterans Day Weekend.

“From Independence Hall to our newest national park, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, our national parks tell the story of America, from the beauty of our land for freedom and justice,” Salazar said. “Whether or not it’s during one of the 17 fee free days next year, I encourage everyone to visit a park near them and enjoy the remarkable landscapes and historical and cultural sites that are unique in our great country.”

Salazar emphasized that our national parks and public lands serve as an economic engine for many local communities, support jobs and drive tourism. Recreation in national parks, refuges and other public lands fueled nearly $55 billion in economic activity and supported 440,000 jobs in 2009.

Many park-related hotels, restaurants, gift shops and tour operators will offer specials on fee-free days.

“The majority of national parks don’t have an entrance fee and those that do charge a maximum of $25 a week for an entire family,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We realize there are additional expenses when visiting a park, so many associated businesses will have discounts and enhancements on the free days.”

He added with the 395 national parks to choose from, there will be something for everyone.

“One of the great things about a national park vacation is it can be as economical or luxurious as desired,” said Jarvis.

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