Celebrating America’s Parks and American Heritage during National Park Week

From April 17-25, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation invite everyone to celebrate America’s treasured places during National Park Week. Join the fun!

The Department of the Interior has announced that National Park Week—an annual weeklong celebration of America’s national parks—will run from April 17 to April 25. National Park Week encourages the public to explore the vast network of national parks, sacred sites, and historical landmarks. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Park, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Every national park has its own unique story to tell, yet so much of our nation’s shared heritage can be found in the towering forests and vast desert expanses that make up our National Park System,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “The outdoors has also proven to be a welcome refuge during the past year of the pandemic. I encourage everyone to enjoy the beauty and wonder of our national parks safely and responsibly.”   

To kick off National Park Week all parks will have a free admission day on Saturday, April 17. The public is asked to recreate responsibly when visiting parks.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Park Service (NPS) invites everyone to participate in a Twitter chat preview of National Park Week on April 16 at 1 p.m. Join the conversation and share favorite memories, tips, and stories about national parks using the hashtag #NationalParkWeek.    

“National Park Week is always a great reminder of the wide variety of sites, parks and programs available for the public to explore in-person or online,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “Throughout the week, ‘travel’ to national parks through virtual tours and other entertaining and educational digital activities designed to connect visitors with the vast network of historical, cultural, inspirational, and recreational parks across the country.”   

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The National Park Foundation and our park partners celebrate the full diversity of our parks. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are urban and rural, natural and manmade. They each have their own, unique story, perspective and experience to share with all of us that, when taken together, really tell the American story,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “And each of us has an important role to play in helping to preserve and protect these special places.”

The 2021 National Park Week theme days are:  

Pinnacles National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 17: Free Admission and ParkRx Day

Spending time in parks and nature benefits overall physical and mental health and wellness. In honor of the NPS’ century-long collaboration with the Office of Public Health, National Park Week begins with ParkRx Day! Enjoy a free admission visit and experience the healing power of nature in a national park.   

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sunday, April 18: Volunteer Sunday

Thank you to National Park Service VIPs (Volunteers-In-Parks)! With over 400 national park sites to manage, NPS volunteers play a critical part in helping parks thrive. From clearing trails and providing directions to assisting visitors through museum collections, volunteers help all of us enjoy national parks.   

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monday, April 19: Military Monday

Thank you for your family’s military service. Many national parks have direct connections to the American military—there are dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. In gratitude for their service, free annual passes are available for all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Learn more at nps.gov/subjects/military.  

Saguaro National Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 20: Transformation Tuesday

National parks and communities are ever changing whether it is in nature, history, opportunities to experience places, and our own personal journeys. Some transformations in national parks have occurred naturally while others are the result of conservation and restoration projects. From restoring buildings to their historical appearance, to rehabilitating ecosystems, to the maturation of wildlife, to incorporating emerging technology, learn how and why parks and their features have transformed through the years.    

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wednesday, April 21: Wayback Wednesday

History happened and memories are made in national parks. Take a look at some of your favorite parks then and now. How has the view changed? Who else has stood in the same spot in the past? Learn about the living landscapes, historical battlefields, ancestral structures, homes of prominent people, and buildings that are tangible reminders of the ever-evolving U.S. story.

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thursday, April 22: Earth Day

A global celebration encouraging all people to learn more about and care for the planet, Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on the natural wonders that the NPS helps to protect.   

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Friday, April 23: Friendship Friday

Caring for the parks is a big job. Park partners have played an important role since the NPS was founded in 1916 and this tradition of generous, committed support continues today with individuals, groups, and communities helping preserve and enhance the national park experience.  

Capitol Reef National Park. Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 24: Junior Ranger Day

The NPS Junior Ranger program provides fun and engaging ways for young people to connect with America’s heritage and landscapes.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sunday, April 25: BARK Ranger Day

National parks are fun to share with those we love including those of the fluffy variety! BARK Ranger principles ensure a pet’s visit to a park is fun and safe.   

Go outside, spring is for feeling alive in national parks.

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983