National Parks to waive entrance fees April 16-24 for National Park Week

Grand Canyon National Park will join national parks around the country in offering free entrance in celebration of National Park Week April 16-24. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

Grand Canyon National Park will join national parks around the country in offering free entrance in celebration of National Park Week April 16-24. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Grand Canyon National Park is offering free entrance to national parks April 16-24, to celebrate National Park Week (NPS) and the NPS Centennial.

Grand Canyon invites the public to join them in a week-long celebration where visitors can attend ranger programs, cultural demonstrations and participate in Earth Day events.

Park ranger programs will be available all week long, including history and geology programs, fossil walks and condor talks.

At Desert View, visitors can attend the Cultural Demonstration Series at the Watchtower. April 16 and 17, join Zuni inlay jewelers Tony Eriacho, Jr. and Ola Eriacho and Zuni fetish carver James Cheama. The weekend of April 23 and 24, demonstrators include Duane Tawahongva, Hopi silversmith and Mike Tucson, Zuni fetish carver. Demonstrations are free and open to the public and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

An Earth Day celebration will take place April 22 at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will feature information on local and national environmental initiatives, games and a recycled art sculpture. Volunteers and GCNP's vegetation team will replant native species and remove exotic plants around the visitor center.

During National Park Week, visitors can expect long lines at the entrance stations, crowded parking lots and limited lodging and camping availability. Mather Campground takes reservations and sets aside a few first-come, first-served sites, which typically fill by noon. Desert View Campground, first-come, first-served only, opens for the season April 17. Park rangers remind visitors that camping must be done in the designated campgrounds. The neighboring Kaibab National Forest has additional camping options.

While visiting the Grand Canyon area, visitors can also explore neighboring national parks and monuments. Findyourpark.com, a park service trip-planning tool, has a list of park sites, experiences, events and opportunities throughout Northern Arizona and across the country.

The fee-free designation does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours, or use of concessions. Park entrance stations will have Interagency Senior and Annual Passes available for those who wish to purchase them. Those who plan to spend time in the park beyond April 24 will need to pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay.

NPS will continue celebrating its centennial year with additional fee-free days in 2016. Those dates are August 25 through 28 for the NPS birthday celebration, September 24 for National Public Lands Day and November 11 for Veterans Day. More information about NPS fee-free days is available at https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm. More information about ranger-led walks and talks visit https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/ranger-program.htm.

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