Partner Series

In an attempt to encourage people to visit the nation's parks, the National Park Service will be offering 17 free admission days to parks around the country in 2011.

Today (Jan. 5), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Park Service's plan to waive fees.

"In these tough economic times, our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation's heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways," Salazar said in a statement.

The fee waivers will cover entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees within the parks. In addition, many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee-free days making food, lodging, tours and souvenirs less expensive for visitors.

Last year, Glacier National Park in Montana had a record number of visitors, and Salazar and the National Park Service are hoping that fee-free days will motivate more people to visit a park this year.

"Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011," Salazar said. "There's no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle."

The 2011 fee-free dates will include:

  • The weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 15 to Jan.17)
  • National Park Week (April 16 to April 24)
  • The first day of summer (June 21)
  • National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24)
  • The weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11 to Nov.13)

The first fee-free days are centered on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, and several parks will be honoring King on the national holiday devoted to him on Jan. 17th.

For more information on fee-free days, check out the National Park's website: