During the weekends of April 15-16 and April 22-23, entry for all national parks and select state parks are free to visitors looking to take advantage of public lands all across the United States. In addition to free admission, the NPS is hosting educational events throughout National Park Week, including Junior Ranger Day on April 15, Earth Day celebrations on April 22, and Park Rx Day on April 23.

The National Park Service dates back to its creation in 1916 and currently covers more than 84 million acres of land. Originally created under the guidance of President Woodrow Wilson to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” the NPS, after celebrating their Centennial in 2016, now includes 417 sites made up of 129 historical parks or sites, 87 national monuments, 59 national parks, 25 battlefields, 19 preserves, 18 recreation areas, 10 seashores, four parkways, four lakeshore, and two preserves. Yellowstone National Park became the country’s first national park signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah was added on December 28, 2016, becoming the newest addition to national park land, and the last added by President Barack Obama before leaving office in 2017. NPS sites receive over 300 million visitors each year and National Park week is the perfect time get out and explore the vast land designated for the enjoyment and appreciate for all.

Looking for tips to explore your favorite national park without getting caught up in the crowds? Check out REI Co-Op’s free app created in partnership with the NPS. Find information on everything from the best camping sites to the best hikes for 34 national parks.

Want to help continue the legacy of the National Park Service? Here’s how:

Donate: The NPS operates on an estimated $2.8 billion budget annually, which is comprised of donations, visitor spending, park fees, and partnerships.
nationalparks.org/support

Volunteer: Roll up your sleeves and donate your time to preserving your favorite public lands. nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm

Support These Businesses: The National Park Service maintains partnerships with a growing list of corporate partners who provide support and donations to the NPS. Here’s a few of our favorite retailers on the corporate partners list. To see the full list of supporters, visit: nationalparks.org

REI Co-OpColeman TentsThe North FaceToad & CoChaco, ColumbiaEagles Nest Outfitters, Eddie Bauer, Osprey, Parks Project, Taos Mountain Energy Bars, Yakima Products, and STABIL—who announced this week they would be donating five percent of all sales over the next four years to the National Park Foundation.