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National Park Week 2012

April 21-29, 2012

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Clepsydra Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Lower Geyser Basin, Wyoming

Clepsydra Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Lower Geyser Basin, Wyoming

© *~Dawn~* via Flickr

A week dedicated to the parks? I am RSVP'ing, Yes! National Park Week is an annual week that is proclaimed by the President. It is a time to celebrate and recognize national and state parks, national monuments, and historic sites in the U.S. They are the country’s living examples of spectacular landscapes, they protect our wildlife, and they reflect our diverse culture. Yes, they are awesome. So how can you celebrate such awesomeness in only a week?

This year, the theme is “Picture Yourself in a National Park Week.” And with 397 parks to choose from, it won’t be hard to do! This week is a great opportunity to get out there and explore the parks you’ve always wanted to. Even more exciting is the fact that National Park Week, National Junior Ranger Day, and Earth Day occur during the same week! If you have kids, be sure to check out the list of over 225 NPS sites that will host youth-oriented activities on April 23 for the annual National Junior Ranger Day.

You have endless options when it comes to something to do this week. From scavenger hunts and craft demonstrations to puppet shows and nature hikes, there are hundreds of free special events taking place during National Park Week. Remember, all parks are offering FREE admission all week so explore your favorites or the parks near you for special events. Check out some of the highlights below.

Remember to share your stories and adventures from National Park Week! Upload your photos, videos, and more on the About.com National & State Park Facebook page.

Main Events

April 21: Volunteer Day
There are nearly 400 national parks and even more ways that you can help. Find an opportunity at a park near you.

April 22: Earth Day
Created to raise awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment, events are held across the nation on this day. Learn more.

April 28: National Junior Ranger Day
Young visitors to are invited to the parks to "explore, learn, protect" and be sworn in as Junior Rangers.

Other Highlights:

April 21: Bird Watching at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Join expert and novice birders to discover for yourself why the Audubon Society of Ohio designated this park as an Important Bird Area.

April 22: Photography Workshop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nationally recognized nature photographer Bill Lea will lead a workshop emphasizing wildlife, landscape, and macro photography.

April 23: Snorkel at Virgin Islands National Park
Program takes a look at marine life on a coral reef. This is also on dates throughout the year.

April 24: Celebrate Earth Week at Saratoga National Historical Park
Ecology technology demonstrations and exhibits.

April 25: Convoy Point Canoe Trips at Biscayne National Park
Join a ranger or volunteer for a 2-3 hour guided paddle.

April 26: Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hikes, walks, lectures, and programs (both indoors and outdoors) on mountain wildflowers, wildlife, ecology, cultural history and more.

April 27: Four Score and Four Years: From Civil War to WWII at the National Mall
Walking Tour.

April 28: Ranger-led Snowshoe Walks at Crater Lake National Park
Offered every Saturday and Sunday from December to the end of April.

April 29: Experience Gray Whales at Point Reyes National Seashore
View gray whales through binoculars and scopes. Volunteer docents available to answer questions about gray whales.

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