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For those who haven’t been to one of the nation’s National Parks in a few years, next week is your week. National Park Week begins on April 17 and provides opportunities to explore new places, discover history and culture and even help the cause. Colorado has its fair share of gorgeous national parks so you won’t have to go very far.

Each year, National Park Week provides a special time to celebrate national parks and programs across the country and encourage everyone to discover the nation’s diverse natural and cultural heritage.

“Every national park has its own unique story to tell, yet so much of our nation’s shared heritage can be found in the towering forests and vast desert expanse that make up our National Park System,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “The outdoors has also proven to be a welcome refuge during the past year of the pandemic. I encourage everyone to enjoy the beauty and wonder of our national parks safely and responsibly.”

“National Park Week is always a great reminder of the wide variety of sites, parks, and programs available for the public to explore in-person or online,” said National Park Service Deputy Director, Shawn Benge. Throughout the week, [you can] ‘travel’ to national parks through virtual tours and other entertaining and educational digital activities designed to connect visitors with the vast network of historical, cultural, inspirational, and recreational parks across the country.”

Image courtesy of the National Parks Service.

National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth explained “The National Park Foundation and our park partners celebrate the full diversity of our parks. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are urban and rural, natural and manmade. They each have their own, unique story, perspective and experience to share with all of us that, when taken together, really tell the American story. Each of us has an important role to play in helping to preserve and protect these special places.”

Parks across the country host a variety of special programs, events, and digital experiences. There are also special theme days during the week to highlight different ways everyone can enjoy national parks.

The 2021 National Park Week theme days are:

Saturday, April 17: Free Admission and Park Rx Day  

Spending time in parks and nature benefits overall physical and mental health and wellness. In honor of the NPS’ century-long collaboration with the Office of Public Health, National Park Week begins with Park Rx Day. Enjoy a free admission visit to recreate responsibly in a national park near you.

Sunday, April 18: VIP (Volunteers in Parks) Sunday  

With over 400 national park sites to manage, NPS volunteers play a critical part in helping parks thrive. From clearing trails and providing directions to assisting visitors through museum collections, volunteers help all of us enjoy national parks.

Monday, April 19: Military Monday  

National parks provide military members, past and present, with places for reflection and recreation where they can experience the comradery, solace, and healing that nature offers. In gratitude for their service, free annual passes are available for all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Tuesday, April 20: Transformation Tuesday  

How have parks changed through the years? How will they change in the future? Some transformations in national parks have occurred naturally while others are the result of conservation and restoration projects. From restoring buildings to their historical appearance, to rehabilitating ecosystems, to the maturation of wildlife, to incorporating emerging technology, learn how and why parks and their features have transformed through the years.

Wednesday, April 21: Wayback Wednesday  

Take a look at some of your favorite parks then and now. Learn about the living landscapes, historical battlefields, ancient ancestral structures, homes of prominent people, and buildings that are tangible reminders of the ever-evolving U.S. story.

Thursday, April 22: Earth Day  

A global celebration encouraging all people to learn more about and care for the planet, Earth Day is the time to reflect on the natural wonders that the NPS helps to protect.

Friday, April 23: Friendship Friday  

Caring for parks is a big job. Park partners have played an important role since the NPS was founded in 1916, and this tradition of generous, committed support continues today with individuals, groups and communities helping preserve and enhance the national park experience.

Saturday, April 24: Junior Ranger Day  

The NPS Junior Ranger program provides fun and engaging ways for young people to connect with our country’s heritage and landscapes, both virtually and in-person.

Sunday, April 25: BARK Ranger Day 

National parks are fun to share with those we love – including those of the fluffy variety. BARK Ranger principles ensure a pet’s visit to a park is fun and safe.

Click here to find your Park or National Monument.