National parks, monuments to offer fee-free days in 2017
As most of us know and are proud of, Utah is blessed with five national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion. Utah also has eight national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, Timpanogos Cave, Grand Staircase-Escalante and the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument. To encourage people to get out and enjoy the unique beauty of our national parks and monuments, the U.S. National Park Service announced in December that there will be several entrance fee-free days during 2017. This is an opportunity to save a little money while vacationing with family and friends.
The days will be as follows: Feb. 20 (Presidents Day), April 15-16 and April 22-23 (weekends of National Park Week), Aug. 25 (National Park Service Birthday), Sept. 30 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 11-12 (Veterans Day weekend).
During January and February, our Utah national parks are cold and snowy, but the snow adds a unique beauty to our spectacular landscape that a lot of people miss. Furthermore, our parks and monuments are not crowded and congested like they are in the summertime. Lodging rates are more attractive in the winter. Think about scheduling a visit to one of our parks or monuments with family and friends on Martin Luther King Day or Presidents Day and saving the cost of the entrance fee.
One closing thought about national parks and monuments: a national monument is declared by the U.S. president as opposed to a national park, which is designated by an act of Congress. For example, Arches National Monument was designated by proclamation from President Herbert Hoover on April 12, 1929, and the area was designated a national park by congressional legislation signed by President Richard Nixon on Nov. 12, 1971.