Na­tional parks, mon­u­ments to of­fer fee-free days in 2017

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - By Ed Helmick

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.

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