Have you considered visiting any of the National Parks this year? Did you know that if you have a fourth grader, they get a free National Park pass that will admit one carload for the entire school year? A lot of people don’t know that this is available, although I believe that the information is shared in many schools. I’m not sure that our children are really reliable messengers, I have a suspicion that a good number of handouts that my kids were given became paper airplanes on the bus ride home.
Think about the opportunities this gives us to get our kids outside. Every state in the nation has at least one National Park, and most have several, so no matter where you live you don’t have to go far to enjoy them. We know it’s important to spend time with our families, and getting our kids outdoors does wonders for their health and self esteem. When kids are young is the perfect time to instill a love of nature; teaching them that hiking, climbing, fishing, and camping are all activities that help them to unwind and decompress from their every day world.
I am also a big advocate of helping our kids learn to appreciate our country and its history. Most of our National Parks are rich in teaching opportunities. One year we took a National Park roadtrip with our kids, starting out at Grand Teton National Park, staying at Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park, touring the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana, driving past Devils Tower on our way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, then home. It was an amazing family trip, and it was nice to get the kids away from their friends and phones for several days.
I think that having a National Park pass encourages us to go see places we might not have thought of otherwise, so I believe that every family should consider buying one annually. They are well worth the money. For us to take a trip into Yellowstone, we would first pay the $30 fee to get into Grand Teton National Park, then pay another $50 at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. This gets us a 7 day pass into these particular parks. But for that same $80, we can buy an annual National Park pass, which gets us into all of the National Parks for an entire year. And if you have a fourth grader and can get that pass free, it’s a fantastic deal.
Information on getting your free pass for fourth graders is on the Every Kid in a Park website. Be sure to click on the “Parents” tab, it gives a lot more info about the passes. And don’t forget that our military personnel can get a free National Park pass every year, information on those passes is on the National Park Service website. It’s important to get your fourth grader pass now though, because it’s good for a school year, ending in August of next year, and you’ll want to use it as much as possible in that amount of time.
So get your free pass, and start planning your next outdoor family adventure!