GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - This year National Public Lands Day at Grand Canyon National Park will be commemorated with more than free admission and volunteer opportunities. Park staff and friends will also be celebrating the park's first Dia de la Familia.
Dia de la Familia will be held On Sept. 26, as a part of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the National Park Service's efforts to recognize the diverse experiences of all Americans. National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and is a time when Americans pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and our society.
The Grand Canyon has a rich history of Spaniards and Mexicans exploring, pioneering and working in the region. That history goes back over 400 years to the arrival of part of the Coronado expedition in 1540. Led by García López de Cárdenas, these men were the first Europeans to set eyes on the Grand Canyon.
Today, people of Hispanic heritage serve at every level in Grand Canyon National Park, the National Park Service and the Department of Interior, participating in and directing the day-to-day management and operation of many of our nation's public lands.
Dia de la Familia is a bilingual celebration commemorating the Hispanic heritage of Grand Canyon National Park and the American Southwest and celebrating the daily contributions of Hispanics to the public's enjoyment of America's public lands. This year's celebration will include: special exhibits highlighting the Hispanic heritage of the park and the Southwest; bilingual walks and talks along the rim and into the Canyon; bilingual children's programs that meet some of the qualifications to become a Junior Ranger; demonstrations of traditional handicrafts by Mexican artisans; a special bilingual program presented by rangers from Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park in Baja, Calif., highlighting the ongoing condor reintroduction in Mexico; a recruitment and information table staffed jointly by the National Park Service and US Forest Service; and the debut of portions of the Ken Burns series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," in both Spanish and in English.
In honor of National Public Lands Day (NPLD), service opportunities will be made available for those who would like to participate in the NPLD tradition of volunteering to make their public lands a better place for all. In addition, entrance fees at all national park units, including Grand Canyon National Park, will be waived.
In order to make the park as accessible as possible and to provide additional parking during this celebration, free shuttle service will be available from Tusayan, Arizona (on Highway 64 just outside of the park entrance) to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center where free shuttles to many of the South Rim's primary attractions are readily available.
To learn more about Dia de la Familia or for a schedule of events, please contact District Interpreter David Smith at (928) 638-7765. To learn more about National Public Lands Day, please visit www.publiclandsday.org.