Expose yourself to nature on August 4 and take advantage of the National Park’s Free Entrance Day. These days throughout the year celebrate the Great American Outdoors Act, which is legislation that aims to offset increasing entrance fees by supporting the cost of repairs and maintenance.
With waterfalls, hiking trails, forests and battlefields, you can celebrate in Northern Virginia and help bring attention to the importance of conserving National Parks.
Great Falls Park (regular fee: $10-20), part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is waiving entrance fees on August 4. Take advantage of the waterfall overlooks, hiking and picnicking beside the Potomac River as it flows through the Mather Gorge. This 800-acre park includes the Patowmack Canal, which is a look at our nation’s early days.
Prince William National Forest (regular fee: $10-20) was formerly a “relief camp” for low-income D.C. children. The park has 37 miles of hiking trails and a nine-mile scenic loop that’s drivable and bike-able, with lanes for cars and cyclists. If you want to pitch a tent, there are cabins available to rent as well as plenty of space to pitch a tent. On Free Entrance Days, the $7 fee for vehicles (five day pass) is waived.
Shenandoah National Park (regular fee: $15-30) has beautiful hiking trails through the Shenandoah Mountains, around Skyline Drive with views of the surrounding waterfalls. The hikes include the Stony Man Trail, the Shenandoah’s second highest mountain; Rose River Loop, a scenic waterfall hike; Mary’s Rock, an Appalachian Trail hike; and Big Devil’s Stairs, a shorter, five-and-a-half mile hike.
For more information about Free Entrance Days, go to https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm
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