National Park Week is an annual celebration of what many people call America’s best idea, beginning with a fare-free day, April 21.
The five Mountain West states — Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho — have 48 national park sites that attract more than 35 million visitors a year. So, there are lots of opportunities to explore extraordinary places and learn more about American history and culture.
“It’s a chance for us to not only promote awareness about the national parks,” said National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum, “but to also encourage people to discover some of the lesser-known places in the national park system and different kinds of experiences you can have in a national park.”
Kurt Repanshek, editor-in-chief of the webzine, National Parks Traveler. He said the number of days to enter the parks without paying a fee is shrinking, even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said recently that his department should be doing more to get people out to enjoy the public lands.
“That seems to be a little irony,” he said. “But, overall, National Parks Week — designed to the national park system — that’s always a great thing.”
Repanshek said there were 16 fee-free days two years ago and 10 last year. April 21 is the first of just four fee-free days this year.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.