National Park Week
If you’re a nature lover, you’ve likely enjoyed one or more of the U.S.’s 63 national parks. National parks are lands that have been designated by Congress as protected for reasons ranging from unique geological formations to fragile ecosystems. You probably already know that national parks are home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the country. What you might not know is that the National Park Service, or NPS, has a special event coming up next week.
National Park Week, from April 17th-25th, is a nine-day celebration designed to help people appreciate and advocate for these special places. Each of the nine days is marked by its own theme. Whether you plan to tune into virtual events and digital experiences or explore a national park in person, read on for all the information you need to know to enjoy National Park Week.
When is National Park Week?
In 2021, National Park Week will take place from April 17th to April 25th.
Where is National Park Week happening and how can I take part?
The celebration is country-wide. You can access virtual events as well as regular NPS resources like virtual visits and nature webcams from anywhere with internet access. Park fans are also encouraged to participate from home on social media.
Adventurers can mark the occasion with a variety of in-person events, including guided hikes and screen printing projects, happening at different national parks across the country. To browse both virtual and in-person events, check the official NPS events calendar here.
Which national park should I visit?
It can be hard to choose between the many amazing national parks, especially when you have the absolute freedom offered by a camper van. Luckily, NPS has created a quick quiz to help narrow down your choices. Take the quiz to find your dream park.
What are the daily themes of National Park Week?
Celebrate National Park Week in style with a different theme every day. Each of the nine themes illuminates a different aspect of national parks and opens the door for different activities.
April 17th- Park Rx Day (Fee Free Day)
In recent years, NPS has put more effort into emphasizing the health and wellness benefits of spending time in the great outdoors. If a visit to a national park is just what the doctor ordered, you’re in luck because many national parks, historic sites, national monuments, and recreation areas are waiving their usual admission fees on this day. To find out which locations are offering free entry, check the list.
P.S. All four of the beautiful national parks depicted in the photos in this post (Arches, Mount Rainier, Yellowstone, and Denali) will be free to visit on the 17th.
April 18th- Volunteer Sunday
If you’ve appreciated the pristine nature and helpful resources offered by NPS, this is the perfect time to give back! View volunteer opportunities for this day and other days here. Even if you can’t volunteer, join NPS on social media in thanking the over 300,000 volunteers who keep the parks running and beautiful.
April 19th- Military Monday
While this day is specifically dedicated to the military, the National Park Service thanks military personnel, veterans, and their families year-round with free annual America the Beautiful Passes for access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. NPS also offers information on nature experiences as a healing resource for veterans.
April 20th- Transformation Tuesday
From the creation of the first national park in 1872, much has changed. Today, the National Park Service is focused not only on preserving historic sites and unique ecosystems but also on expanding community outreach and involvement. Join NPS on social media to see transformations and explore the past, present, and future of the parks.
April 21st- Wayback Wednesday
Wayback Wednesday honors the history of NPS as well as the stories of visitors. This is the perfect time to reminisce about some of your favorite trips and share national park memories on social media or make new memories by visiting a park today.
April 22nd- Earth Day
During the global celebration of Earth Day, NPS is focusing on the stewardship and conservation efforts that have preserved beautiful and diverse natural landscapes for future generations to enjoy. National Parks benefit the environment by protecting biodiversity, managing natural resources, and even mitigating natural disasters.
April 23rd- Friendship Friday
Running over 400 sites, including 63 official national parks, isn’t easy. On this day, NPS takes the time to thank its partners, from large organizations to engaged individuals.
April 24th- National Junior Ranger Day
Find engaging activities for budding nature enthusiasts and environmentalists as well as fun experiences for the whole family. You can download virtual junior ranger badges and activity books to take part at home here, or visit a park for one of the many family-friendly activities and events on offer.
April 25th- BARK Ranger Day
For the van life community that travels with dogs, it is important to raise awareness on how our canine companions can enjoy parks sustainably and respectfully. It’s all in the acronym- B.A.R.K. (Bag your pet’s waste, Always leash your pet, Respect wildlife, Know where you can go). For more tips and information about van life with a dog, check out our post.
What do I need to know about visiting National Parks with a van?
Van life and national parks are a match made in heaven. Luckily, most parks offer accessible roads and ample space for vans to park. There are a wide variety of campsites, from those offering full hook-ups to others that are great for boondockers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that desirable spots at the most popular parks will fill up very quickly, so look into making reservations well in advance of your trip. There are often other campsites and RV parks conveniently located right outside of national park boundaries, so don’t give up if you aren’t able to secure a spot in the park.
Should I buy an annual America the Beautiful Pass?
Some national parks are free, while others charge entry fees—generally around $20-$35 per vehicle. The $80 annual America the Beautiful Pass offers no-cost entry to all of these sites as well as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If you’re a nomadic van dweller planning on exploring nature this year, investing in this pass is probably a smart move.
Van life offers never-ending opportunities to explore diverse scenery, while still enjoying the perks of home. We suggest making a national parks bucket list—maybe with the help of the Find Your Park quiz—and beginning to plan to make your dreams a reality!
Looking for the van to take you there? Browse our collection of top-of-the-line camper vans that let you adventure with freedom, convenience, and comfort.
Do you have a favorite national park? Let us know in the comments or on social media @myrecvan.