National Parks: First 2015 Fee-Free Day Ahead

Admission-charging parks will waive their fee for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

133 OF 405: Not every national park under the National Park Service umbrella stops you at a gate to collect admission and tape a small piece of paper inside your windshield. Only 133 out of the just over 400 parks charge a fee, so far less than half, meaning many parks are there for you to enter, sans cash, or at least cash to get in, every day of the year. But Yosemite National Park does have a fee, and so does Joshua Tree National Park, so when the annual fee-free days roll around for the service, as they do each year, they're absolutely worth noting -- noting and applauding, that is. It's a way to get more people into the parks, in every season. And the first day on the national park fee-free calendar is always...

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY: The holiday is on Monday, Jan. 19 in 2015, so if you're in the neck of the Yosemite woods, or Joshua Tree, or further abroad around the United States, you don't have to pay anything to visit a place of quiet, tree- and/or rock-filled peace. It should be said that activities and concessions and stay-over sites within the parks will still charge, so let that be known.

OTHER FEE-FREE DAYS AHEAD... include Presidents Day Weekend, April 18 and 19 (the weekend that kicks off National Park Week), Aug. 25 (it's the National Park Service's birthday), Sept. 26 (where people pause to pitch in over National Public Lands Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). And while the NPS will be marking a pretty auspicious age in 2015 -- 99 -- stay tuned for 2016, when centennial events will abound. And abound they should, given that the service has helped protect many wild lands for nearly a century -- protect and, on occasion, make sure every last one of them is free to see.

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