Northland destinations included in National Parks free weekend dealsHow’s this for a summer stimulus package? Free entry and even free camping at many national parks, monuments and lakeshores across the U.S.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
How’s this for a summer stimulus package? Free entry and even free camping at many national parks, monuments and lakeshores across the U.S.
The National Park Service announced this week that it will waive many fees at 147 of its 391 properties on the weekends of June 20-21, July 18-19, and Aug. 15-16.
Most services, including entry, already are free at the other 244 National Park Service sites.
In the Northland, the initiative means free user fees over those weekends at Isle Royale National Park, a savings of $4 per person, per day. The fee otherwise is charged to hikers, campers, anglers and others who visit the island. The fee waiver does not apply to the cost of a ferry trip to get there. Call (906) 482-0984.
There also will be free entry to Grand Portage National Monument on Minnesota’s North Shore, saving $3 per person for tours of the historic fort and fur trading center. Call (218) 387-2788.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will offer free docking and camping — but only for the June 20-21 weekend. Camping fees otherwise are $10, while parking is $3 at Meyers Beach and docking fees range from $10 to $20. Tours of the Raspberry Island lighthouse also will be free. Call (715) 779-3397.
Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park doesn’t charge fees, so it’s not affected by the stimulus effort. Voyageurs offers hundreds of boat-access campsites for free all summer. Call (218) 283-9821.
“We don’t have any fees to drop, so we’re a good deal all summer,” said Mike Ward, Voyageurs superintendent.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the free weekends Tuesday. They include high-profile parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Yosemite as well as more obscure sites like Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota.
Most Americans live less than a day’s drive from a national park, Salazar said, making them an economical summer
vacation option. National Parks saw more than 275 million visits in 2009 that pumped $10.6 billion into local economies, supporting more than 213,000 jobs, Salazar said. The free weekends will cost the Park Service about $3 million in lost fees.