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National Parks 2011 fee-free days announced

January 7, 2011 | 12:23 pm

Panoramic view of the Grand Canyon.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday that the National Park Service would waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011 and encouraged Americans to visit a national park this year.

"Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011," Secretary Salazar said in a press release. "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 be the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15-17); National Park Week (April 16-24); the first day of summer (June 21); National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24); and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11-13).

Salazar noted that, with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them ideal locales for convenient and affordable vacations.

"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," he said.

Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on the fee-free dates, saving visitors on the cost of food, lodging, tours, and souvenirs. More information is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. Credit: National Park Service