National Park Week starts Saturday with free park entry for visitors

Saturday marks the start of National Park Week, and officials are celebrating by dropping the entry fees at all the country’s national parks on that day only.

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There are nearly 430 national parks across the U.S., with at least one in every state. Not all of them charge entrance fees, but the more than 100 that do will waive the fee on Saturday.

“With countless options of things to do and see, there really is something for everyone in our country’s national parks,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in a statement earlier this month. “During National Park Week, and throughout the year, I encourage people to discover and enjoy the natural, cultural, historical, and recreational opportunities available in national parks and through National Park Service community programs.”

As part of National Park Week, officials will highlight aspects of the National Park Service with themed days:

  • Saturday, April 20: Discovery
  • Sunday, April 21: Volunteers
  • Monday, April 22: Earth Day
  • Tuesday, April 23: Innovation
  • Wednesday, April 24, Workforce Wednesday
  • Thursday, April 25: Youth Engagement
  • Friday, April 26: Community Connections
  • Saturday, April 27: Junior Ranger Day
  • Sunday, April 28: Art in the Parks

Saturday marks the second free entrance day for national parks this year after fees were waived for visitors on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in January. Four more free entrance days are planned for National Park Service sites on:

  • June 19: Juneteenth National Independence Day
  • August 4: The anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • September 28: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Two National Park sites are within driving distance of Jacksonville.

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is a 46,000-acre preserve highlighting Northeast Florida's coastal wetlands. Fort Caroline National Memorial is a 16th-century French fort where European settlers made some of the earliest contact with American Indians.

Nearby is the Kingsley Plantation. Located within the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, the plantation is the oldest in Florida. Vistas of the Ft. George River and coastal wetland make up this majestic gem of a location.

Just south of Jacksonville and located in St. Augustine you will find Castillo de San Marcos.

Built by the Spanish to defend Florida and the Atlantic trade route, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument preserves the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.

Fort Matanzas National Monument, also located in St. Augustine, preserves the fortified coquina watchtower, completed in 1742. Click here to learn more.

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