This Saturday, September 26, the National Park Service will provide free admission to all national parks in honor of National Public Lands Day. Here are a few Colorado locations you can visit for free.

According to NPS.gov, National Public Lands Day is the nation's "biggest annual celebration of the great outdoors." Established by the National Environmental Education Foundation  in 1994, NPLD "encourages environmental stewardship and the use of public lands for education, recreation, inspiration and general health and wellness."

In addition to visiting national parks, this is a call for volunteers. According to NEEF, "Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, the event brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country."

If you're planning to take advantage of the offer of free admission, please keep in mind not everything is a "national park." This distinction applies to a number of great attractions around Colorado. Mesa Verde National Park would be an example of a location offering free admission this Saturday.

Here's a quick rundown of Colorado locations offering free admission on Saturday, September 26, 2020:

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds national Monument
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park

Even with the celebration, social distancing measures remain in effect. If you are concerned about the safety of visiting a public attraction, please let me share a recent personal experience. Not long ago I visited Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado. While there I had a chance to view Cliff Palace. Start to finish, I was able to enter the park, make the drive to Cliff Palace, view the dwelling and take photos, all while never coming within 20 feet of another person. Gaining access to the park can be done without ever leaving your vehicle. Visiting the overlooks to see the dwellings can be done without having contact with another person.

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If you're like many people I know, a road trip and fresh air is everything the doctor ordered. Visiting public lands can be done safely, even with the current circumstances. Fall is officially here, and some Colorado regions will be unreachable soon. Please take full advantage of Saturday's free admission to Colorado's national parks.