National Park Week: Pick a Park To See For Free!
By: Leah Kackley
A few of the great treasures of this beautiful nation are the national parks. Some are historical and some are visual treasures, but all are worth visiting. April 21, 2018 is the first day of National Park Week, AND it’s the day that the Parks offer free admission to everyone.
This year National Park Week runs from April 21 through April 29, and it’s a wonderful time to explore these amazing places. In addition to the free-admission day on April 21, parks will have a varying schedule of special programs during the week, so check that out before deciding on a location to visit. The beauty of living in central Mississippi is that parks across the state are within driving distance, so visiting a location of your choice can be a one day affair. Here are some suggestions for that visit.
Mississippi Gulf Islands
Here is a variety of natural barrier islands that provide hiking, bird watching, kayaking, exploring and beach combing opportunities to the max. It’s worth mentioning that West Ship Island is the home to Fort Massachusetts, a structure built by the US War Department in 1812. Many of the islands that are directly south of the Mississippi coastline are only accessible by private boat, but charters may be available. Charters are available for Ship Island.
Military Battlefield Sites
History buffs have a buffet of park choices, and many of them have guided hiking tours, living history demonstrations, camps and additional museums, attached to the outdoor exhibits. Some of these sites include the National Military Park in Vicksburg and the National Battlefield in Tupelo. And the National Military Park at Shiloh is only 30 minutes north of Corinth, just inside the Tennessee line.
If hiking trails with historical significance is the goal, then the Natchez Trace Parkway is a dream “destination”. Starting in Natchez and running diagonally through the state and all the way up to right outside Nashville, TN, this historical route has many original trails that were once used by Native Americans, settlers and slaves. Horseback riding is also available. Some stables, like the Natchez Trace Stables, offer historical horseback riding tours at different times during the year.
For Music Lovers
Just a three-hour drive from central Mississippi is the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. You’ll find ranger led events and music performances there. The visitor center can provide a brochure (or the website can provide a download link) for 11-stop tour of jazz history sites around the city. Only in New Orleans!
Free for Fourth-Graders
Do you have a fourth grader in the family? He or she is eligible for a FREE admittance pass to all the national parks through Every Kid in a Park program. This pass gets the family admitted for free as well! Being immersed in the natural world is one of the best ways to learn about it, which is why this wonderful opportunity was made available. Visiting these national treasures can do so much to enrich and expand the lives of children.
With fantastic opportunities like National Park Week, Every Kid in a Park and Free Admittance Park Days there are so many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful places that our nation has reserved for us. Have fun exploring!
Plan of Action
To find a park and get more information about National Park Week: www.nps.gov
To print your free pass through Every Kid in a Park program: www.everykidinapark.gov
Leah Kackley lives and homeschools in the Reservoir/Fannin area with her husband Jason and their three kids. She thinks a Trip to Ship sounds pretty good right about now!