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National Park News: January 2022

Fee-Free Days Announced, Prescribed Burns, A New Dark Sky Park, and an End to the KNP Complex Wildfire

sunset over the swamp with tiny trees poking out of the water at Everglades National Park in southern Florida

Everglades National Park, FL - Photo Credit: Chris Blake


National Park News is a monthly series for the Pathloom blog. Check out last month's edition here. Sign up for Pathloom Beta Access to be added to a mailing list for the latest news, weekly blog updates, and exclusive sneak peeks to upcoming posts.


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crystal blue skies fade into grey clouds, partially obscuring the mountains of Grant Teton National Park in Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, WY - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

Each year, the National Park Service selects several dates throughout the year in which they waive entrance fees for all National Parks across the country. This presents an excellent opportunity for nature lovers from all economic backgrounds to experience the wonders of the American National Park System. Plan to arrive as early in the day as possible though, as these will understandably be some of the busiest days of the year to visit. Fee-free dates are as follows:

  • Monday, January 17 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  • Saturday, April 16 – First Day of  National Park Week

  • Thursday, August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act

  • Saturday, September 24 – National Public Lands Day

  • Friday, November 11 – Veterans Day

Entrance fees for parks on days other than those listed above can be as high as $35 per vehicle, so if you are unable to visit on any of the dates listed below you may want to consider investing $80 in the America The Beautiful Pass, which allows you to visit every Park in the country as often as you'd like over the course of the entire year.


The magnificent view of striated rocks and a deep gorge along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

Prescribed Fires to Begin at Several National Parks in January

Throughout January 2022, several National Parks throughout the country will begin a series of prescribed burns that may interfere with visitation plans while active. Planned fires such as these are essential to reduce the amount of hazardous fuel found throughout these parks, which if left alone could exponentially increase the risk of wildfire spread during the dry season. These burns are carefully performed with the safety of staff and visitors at the forefront of consideration.

Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and Valles Caldera National Preserve are among the National Park Service administered areas that will be impacted by this burn program, so be sure to check official Park websites when planning any travel to ensure your plans will not be impacted - especially if you or anyone in your party is sensitive to smoke inhalation.


spooky starry skies between some of the tallest trees on the planet at Sequoia National Park in California

Sequoia National Park, CA - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan

The massive KNP Complex Wildfire that raged in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks has finally reached full containment after months of devastation and the destruction of up to 5% of the world's population of Giant Sequoia trees. Even though there may be traces of the blaze that still smolder, officials are now confident that there will be no additional spread thanks to the efforts of thousands of firefighters. The fire, caused by lightning strikes during a period of climate change-amplified drought, burnt 88,000 acres over the span of 3 months and caused many local towns to be emergency evacuated. Though the fire is officially contained, there are many areas throughout these Parks that remain closed so as always, be sure to check the Park website when planning a visit.


Cape Lookout National Seashore, NC - Photo Credit: Alex Gu

Cape Lookout National Seashore, off the coast of North Carolina, has been dedicated as the first International Dark Sky Park on the Atlantic Seaboard. This designation means the area is far enough from sources of light pollution that it presents an ideal environment for stargazing and other lunar events - a rare circumstance on the otherwise crowded East Coast. The majority of Dark Sky Parks are located in extremely remote areas throughout the country, so this certification is especially impressive and informs those dwelling on the East Coast of an incredible opportunity to see the night sky without needing to travel to the opposite side of the country.


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