National Public Lands Day is Saturday, Sept. 30, one of several fee-free days in 2017 observed by the U.S. Forest Service to encourage everyone to experience their public lands. Fees are waived at most federal day-use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads, and visitor centers. In Southwest Washington, that means that every recreational site on Gifford Pinchot National Forest land is free for you to explore—as is the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. (Fees for camping and cabin rentals still apply, FYI.) To find a recreation site near you, visit this interactive recreation map.
And here’s a bonus for families of fourth graders: as part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth graders and their families can claim their free Every Kid in a Park pass, which allows free entry into and use of all federal parks, forests, and recreation areas for a full year. Fourth graders can print out a paper voucher for free entry into and use of all federal lands by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website at www.everykidinapark.gov. Students and their families can also redeem their paper voucher for a plastic pass at any Forest Service office. The voucher and passes are valid for the entire school year, from now through Aug. 31, 2018.
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest encompasses over 1.3 million acres of land owned by the American public. For more information about National Public Lands Day, visit www.publiclandsday.org.