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A regional public media collaboration serving the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

National Park Week Begins With A Fee Free Day

Photo of Zion National Park entrance.
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April 21-29 is National Park Week. It begins with a day of free admittance to all 417 National Park sites in the nation. Forty-eight, including Arches National Park shown here, are in the Mountain West,

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.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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