National Park Week: Free entrance, special events in nearby parks

ST. GEORGE — National parks throughout the country will waive entrance fees April 16-24 to celebrate both National Park Week and the National Park Service centennial. Parks offer a variety of activities visitors can enjoy during the week, including ranger programs, demonstrations and Earth Day events.

St. George News stock image
St. George News stock image

Zion National Park

Known for its towering crimson sandstone walls and deep, sinuous slot canyons, Zion National Park is Utah’s most-visited national park, annually drawing in over 3 million visitors per year.  With trails and adventure opportunities suited from beginners to hardened adventurers, Zion has something to offer everyone. A special screening of the 3D IMAX film “National Parks Adventure” will be played at the Zion Giant Screen Theatre in Springdale. See details here.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks has often been compared to a miniature Bryce Canyon, a natural amphitheater situated at over 10,000 feet in elevation. The park shows off an exemplary display of multi-colored pinnacles and hoodoos set beneath emerald meadows and crowned with aspens, subalpine firs and Engelmann spruce. Please note, however, that state Route 148, the main road to the Visitor’s Center remains closed due to snow, making the amphitheater inaccessible to all except those on skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles.

Bryce Canyon National Park, undated | Photo courtesy of Ruby's Inn, St. George News
Bryce Canyon National Park, undated | Photo courtesy of Ruby’s Inn, St. George News

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is also renowned for its collection of hoodoos — tall rock spires of varying colors and thickness — the largest such conglomeration in the world. They are best seen at sunrise and sunset when the shadows grow long and the sun bathes these spires in red and orange hues. In celebration of National Park Week, rangers from Bryce Canyon will be visiting area schools to teach students about Prairie Dogs.

Grand Canyon 

Grand Canyon National Park will also waive entrance fees April 16-24 to celebrate National Park Week and the National Park Service Centennial.

Park ranger programs will be available all week long, including history and geology programs, fossil walks, and condor talks. Click here for more information about ranger-led walks and talks.

At Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim, visitors can attend the Cultural Demonstration Series. April 16 and 17, join Zuni inlay jewelers Tony Eriacho, Jr. and Ola Eriacho and Zuni fetish carver James Cheama. The weekend of April 23 and 24, the demonstrators are Duane Tawahongva, Hopi silversmith, and Mike Tucson, Zuni fetish carver. The demonstrations are free and open to the public and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Grand Canyon National Park, stock photo | St. George News
Grand Canyon National Park, stock photo | St. George News

An Earth Day celebration will take place April 22 at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features information on local and national environmental initiatives, games and a recycled art sculpture. Volunteers and Grand Canyon National Park’s Vegetation Program team will replant native species and remove exotic plants around the visitor center.

During National Park Week, visitors to all the national parks can expect long lines at the entrance stations, crowded parking lots, and limited lodging and camping availability.

The fee-free designation does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours or use of concessions. Park entrance stations will have Interagency Senior and Annual Passes available for those who wish to purchase them. Those who plan to spend time in the parks beyond April 24 will need to pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

This vast, empty wilderness has no visitor’s center or facilities of any kind. It is considered one of the most remote spots in the continental United States. As such, visitors to the monument must be prepared to be completely self-sufficient. Some tips from the monument’s Website:

  • It is strongly recommended that travelers enter the Parashant with a BLM Arizona Strip Visitor Map. It shows most (but not all) of the 6,000 miles of open roads on the Arizona Strip including the Parashant. It costs less than $15. The free Parashant map produced by the National Park Service only shows major unpaved roads. Most roads are not shown on the NPS map. Directional signs can fall over and visitors have gotten lost in the past due to lack of familiarization with the Parashant. Road and safety information and resource materials are available at the Interagency Information Center in St. George, UT.
  • There is no paved road access to or within the Monument. During dry periods graded dirt roads are passable by 2-wheel drive vehicles, but roads may become impassable when wet. We recommend that only well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicles with two full-sized spare tires travel Monument routes.
  • Cell phones do not work in the Monument so leave a detailed itinerary and an estimated time of arrival with a friend or family member.
  • There are no services within the Monument. Take extra food, water and clothing, to allow for weather changes or vehicle breakdowns. If you are staying more than one day, take additional gas.

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