Our library of travel guides, tips and recommendations, insider insights, and visitor stories provides inspiration and information to help you plan your next adventure.
Veterans Day is a time when Americans honor and thank U.S. military veterans for their service to their country. This is also a perfect time to enjoy America’s great outdoors and historic places, which represent much of what veterans serve to protect.
U.S. military veterans and Gold Star families are granted free access to federal lands across the country. The free access program is a way to thank America’s veterans and Gold Star families for their support of our country and to encourage them to explore recreational opportunities on their public lands.
Free access means free entrance to national parks, federal wildlife refuges and other federal lands that normally charge entrance fees, as well as free use of standard amenities like day use, individual picnic sites, etc. at other participating federal lands. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, transportation, special recreation permits or special tours. For more information and answers to common questions, visit this National Park Service site.
Read our list for some highlights, then find a way to remember and honor our veterans as you enjoy some of the best our country has to offer!
Through stories, art, song, dance and architecture, Native American culture comes alive in the special places that serve as the ancestral homelands of these Native peoples. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in vibrant culture, while exploring vivid depictions of historical events and places.
There are only a few wildlife experiences more awe-inspiring than feeling the thundering presence of a bison. Before their near extinction, roughly 30 to 60 million bison roamed the country; but by the 1890s, fewer than 1000 bison could be found across America. Thanks to conservation efforts, bison
Picture an autumn sky blanketed with birds erupting into flight, filling the air with calls and the sound of thousands of wings beating together. Fall is the perfect season for celebrating birds and their migrations. Experiencing a festival at one of your National Wildlife Refuges or other federal
With the landscape changing colors and the cold setting in across many of our public lands and waters, take a leaf from our book and travel somewhere warm this fall. Our top five “hot spots” offer temperatures where you and your loved ones can take off your fall jackets!
Does it feel like your favorite places are getting busier and busier each summer? Even though the kids are in school, or your work deadlines are piling up, your public lands and waters are waiting for you to visit all year long. As the seasons change, from summer to fall, or from winter to spring,
This past spring, Recreation.gov hosted its second annual “Share Your Story” adventure writing contest, designed to encourage visitors of our federal public lands to share details of their meaningful outdoor adventures and experiences. The contest resulted in nearly 1000 submissions, with stories th
Did you know? Christmas tree permits are available on national forests across the country to purchase online through Recreation.gov. For every tree that is found, cut, and carried home as a holiday fixture, a new story is created. These stories become the precious memories that create traditions w
This winter, if snow camping isn’t your thing (brrr!), then seek out the warmth and shelter of a cabin or yurt. These wintertime gems, especially the cabins, often have a unique past – if these walls could talk, you would hear some amazing fire and conservation stories. Or maybe the simple lines of
Snow may be falling near you and winter fun is just beginning. Whether you are experiencing your public lands under a blanket of snow or simply enjoying a snow-free off-season, the outdoors is a great place to be this time of year. No matter where you are in the country, it is important to be cau
Why did so many ancient bison die in this place? What drew the bison and Paleo-Indians here? These are some of the questions still asked today as researchers continue to investigate the largest known bison bonebed in the world. A trip to Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center is a visit to an a
Ask anyone about their most vivid childhood memories. Chances are, if they went camping with their families, it’s those memories that often rise to the surface. Do you like the idea of camping but find it too daunting after putting in long workdays, school activities, and all of the necessities of l
Summer is more than just a season – it’s a time to gather with friends and families, head out on your long-awaited vacations, and explore America’s great outdoors and historic places. The word “summer” invokes so many different feelings, memories, and aspirations, and for good reason – between Memor
Beginning in central California and spilling into Nevada's Great Basin, the Sierra Nevada mountain range includes some of California's most iconic landscapes — Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Inyo National Forest and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, amon
Located in central California's Yosemite Valley near the base of granite cliffs, Camp 4 campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, especially among the rock climbing community. It’s even listed on the National Register for Historic Places for its significant rol
Getting involved provides the opportunity to see our national treasures in a new light, and there are plenty of ways that you can help preserve and support our public lands and waters. On Volunteer.gov you can discover volunteer opportunities that make an impact in the same places you love to recre
From the headwaters near Crater Lake National Park, the Rogue River flows 215 miles (346 km) to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. The 84 miles (135 km) of the lower Rogue, beginning seven miles (11.2 km) west of Grants Pass and ending 11 miles (17.7 km) east of Gold Beach are designated as a
Forgo the firewood and experiment with your favorite recipes on your next camping trip. Need inspiration? These tried-and-true recipes from your friends at Recreation.gov might become some of your go-to campground meals! Depending on the fire danger, gas or propane camp stoves may be used in a deve
Colorado’s Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is a renowned recreation destination with 173 miles (278 km) of trails managed by the Forest Service. Beginning February 15, 2023 at 8am MT, overnight permits for Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, including Conundrum Hot Springs, Four Pass Loop, and Capito
Located less than an hour’s drive from Phoenix, Arizona, Bulldog Canyon is a great place to experience the Tonto National Forest’s unique Sonoran Desert from your off-highway vehicle (OHV). With 25 miles (40 km) of designated OHV trails and views of the Goldfield and Superstition mountains, visitors
Who doesn’t love a winter wonderland? Mugs of hot cocoa, skiing through fresh powder, the perfect snowman… Okay, we admit, sometimes it’s nice to shed your puffy jacket and step into the sun! Your federal lands have a little something for everybody this winter, including these six warm-weather desti
Did you know there are 806 Wilderness areas and 228 Wild & Scenic Rivers across 44 states? These special places offer solitude, serenity, breathtaking landscapes, and the rare opportunity to truly disconnect from our hectic lives. With their wild nature comes more preparation and responsibility
The Denali Park Road is the only road in Denali National Park and Preserve. This 92-mile (148 km) ribbon of road parallels the Alaska Range and travels through low valleys and high mountain passes. Weather permitting, many opportunities exist to view the park’s beautiful vistas, including North Am
An essential workforce for many land management agencies, campground hosts are diligent volunteers ready for the task of hosting visitors at many campgrounds across the United States. Committed hosts are friendly, flexible, and responsible with both individuals or couples stepping into the role, an
As part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, both Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge provide a critical habitat for migrating birds, threatened and endangered species and other native species along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Additi
Located just an hour's drive from Fairbanks, the one-million-acre (404,685 ha) White Mountains National Recreation Area (NRA) offers stunning views of Alaska scenery and outstanding opportunities for year-round recreation, including snow mountain biking. With over 240 miles (386 km) of groomed
There are few U.S. national parks as recognizable as Joshua Tree National Park located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, where rare plants, 46 reptiles, 57 mammal and 251 bird species call home. This park also features historically significant sites and structures that help te
Celebrate and share awareness of the role bats play in the ecosystem during Bat Week from October 24-31! There are more than 1,400 species worldwide, 47 of which can be found across the United States. Many bat species are also currently endangered: 23 are critically endangered, 85 are endangered, a
Did you know the USDA Forest Service manages 20 National Grasslands across 13 states? Grasslands are special environments teeming with wildlife, unique plant and grass species, and are great less-traveled places to visit and explore. Every year during the third week in June, we observe National Gras
Yosemite National Park features 1,200 square miles (311,000 ha) of iconic landscapes including must-see destinations like Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, Crane Flat Area, Hetch Hetchy Valley, and Tuolumne Meadows. Every year, millions of visitors travel to Yosemite to view these dramatic landscapes
Bordered to the east by Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park beckons overnight backpacking enthusiasts to explore the stark contrast of where dunes meet the forest. A diverse landscape unfolds for explorers to roam the dune slopes where there are no trails, where sol
Spring break is treasured by students of all ages, whether they are in kindergarten or working on a Ph.D. It’s a time for students to break away from their studies and for families to take advantage of a little down time. The US has an abundance of spring break destinations that will appeal to all l
With the weather warming up across the country, weekend trips and summer vacations are right around the corner. As you start planning your next getaway, add South Dakota to your short list of must-visit destinations. Tourism is the state's second-largest industry, and it’s easy to understand wh
Demand for outdoor recreation experiences continues to grow, and some locations have implemented a timed entry reservation system to manage the number of vehicles or people accessing an area per day or time period. These popular locations, like Rocky Mountain National Park and Arches National Park,
Experience the sight of a whale slapping the water with a fin, blowing water and air through its spout or even fully breaching the surface in an acrobatic arch. Here are eight places where you can see whales from the shore or within a short boat ride away. To witness these magnificent mammals during
Nestled in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest among the hardwoods and conifers of Lake Powhatan Recreation Area, a deluxe glamping site has been thoughtfully designed for your mountain adventure. Only 10 minutes from the excitement of downtown Asheville these all-inclusive glamping sites allow
The marvels tucked away in California’s Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are no hidden secret. The magnificent presence of ancient sequoia trees, glacial canyons, broad lake basins, lush meadows, and sheer granite peaks, represent the most rugged portion of the High Sierra. This captivating
It is not always easy to get kids excited about getting outdoors for a family outing or adventure. Our team pulled together these six activities and programs designed to do just that. We hope it sparks an interest for a lifetime of outdoor fun and connection with public land and water destinations.
The grandeur of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park has beckoned millions of visitors over the years – 4.6 million in 2019. Its scenic meadows and aspen groves, swift-flowing rivers, alpine forests reaching more than 11,500 feet (3,505 m) in elevation, abundant wildlife, and hundreds of miles of
Towering cliffs, rolling sagebrush covered hills, and heavily wooded side canyons provide the backdrop for the dramatic beauty of the Rio Chama River. Beginning in the southern San Juan Mountains of south-central Colorado, the Rio Chama runs about 120 miles (193.1 km) before joining the Rio Grande n
La recreación al aire libre es muy demandada a medida que los visitantes escapan a tierras y aguas públicas en números récord. El paisaje recreativo puede parecer diferente al del pasado, o incluso del año pasado. Planificar con anticipación y entender lo que necesita a medida que planifica su v
Multnomah Falls is a popular Pacific Northwest destination located about 30 minutes east of Portland, Oregon. Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow over the falls is a spectacular view with water plummeting 620 feet (188 meters) in two sections. Built in 1925, the Multnomah Fal
Best known as the site of the enormous 1980 volcanic eruption, Mount St. Helens offers a variety of recreation opportunities, including the chance to climb to the summit of the most active volcano in the Cascade Range. Starting in lush Pacific Northwest forests, the route rises above the treeline,
Rising over 14,410 feet (4392 m) in elevation, Mount Rainier dominates the Washington State skyline, surrounded by wildflower-filled meadows and ancient forests. Each year, tens of thousands of visitors encounter the park’s wilderness on overnight trips, whether through the challenge of a summit cl
Did you know? Nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by humans. It’s hard to imagine a camping trip without the ambience, convenience, and comfort of a campfire. Yet, when fire restrictions are implemented during the hot, dry summer months, or on particularly dry, windy days, it is nece
It’s well known that Las Vegas is one of the world’s entertainment meccas. It’s also the gateway to stunningly beautiful public lands including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Located just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, the area is visited by more than three million visitors each
Located along the mid-coast of Maine, Acadia National Park protects a diverse and scenic landscape that includes rocky coastlines, forests, lakes, and bald granite mountain tops. Visitors can enjoy a range of recreational experiences along the historic Park Loop Road, hiking trails, and carriage r
At Olympic National Park, forest, coastal, and mountain ecosystems combine to create a spectacular wilderness wonderland. Designated as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness of Olympic is a living laboratory for scient
There’s nothing like spending a warm summer day on the trail, in the water, or gazing up at the stars from your campsite. But when Mother Nature turns up the heat, you don’t have to stay inside! Keep climbing to cooler temperatures and keep reading for tips to reduce the risk of altitude sickness on
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness in Everglades National Park is comprised of 1,296,500 acres and is the largest designated wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains. Congress authorized the wilderness in 1978 and named it after its most famous champion in 1997. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wild
Straddling the Arizona and Utah border, the vibrant and dramatic landscape of Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness spans 112,000 acres (45,324 ha) of spectacular geologic formations, desert wildlife and provides primitive outdoor recreation opportunities. Part of Vermilion Cliffs National Monume
As we begin to gear up for summer camping, it’s time to make sure our camping gear is ready. We picture s’mores around the campfire and drifting off to sleep reading a favorite novel. Then, briefly our minds wander into dreaded territory – the camping equipment. Where is the camp stove? Did I actu
The desire to spend time enjoying the outdoors is greater than ever, and many new visitors are seeking solace in nature and the spirit of adventure with a camping trip for the first time. With summer camping season almost upon us, check out these tips from Recreation.gov to plan your trip, make rese
Thinking of bringing your plus-one on your family camping trip? Be sure to plan ahead so you and your pup can have the best adventures together. Check out these tips to prepare appropriately and get the most out of the experience.
Para muchos visitantes Latinos, una profunda apreciación y constante admiración por la naturaleza es heredada de generación a generación. Históricamente, inmigrantes Latinos han dignificado la tierra de nuestro país y sus grandiosos espacios al aire libre a través de diversos esfuerzos de conservaci
Hunters have long been U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners. They have played a major role in the conservation of the nation’s wildlife resources since the late 19th century. Today’s sportsmen and sportswomen can be assured of quality hunts on National Wildlife Refuges. These hunts are carefully
There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than cooling off in a lake. There are lakes scattered across the country that offer a variety of experiences to take the heat off when temperatures soar. These 10 cool lakes feature plenty of amenities to please everyone in the crowd, while also
If your ideal beach experience includes lounging beneath an umbrella on white sands while watching the sunset, we’ve got you covered. If you prefer a rigorous hike that yields expansive views, look no further. If you want to fly a kite, rent a boat, or ride an OHV on the dunes, take a look at one of
If hiking to a spectacular waterfall, warming up in stunning blue waters, cozying up in a historic cabin or fire lookout, or simply escaping the rigor of daily routine is your idea of romantic, then consider these special places and stories as you plan your next getaway. Some of these locations oft
Mark your calendars for the 2023 Fee-Free Days in participating national parks, refuges, conservation lands, lakes, and forests! On designated days throughout the year, participating federal land management agencies offer free entrance and waive some standard amenity and day-use fees. For more detai
Outdoor recreation is in high demand as visitors seek experiences among the nation's public land and water destinations in record numbers. Planning ahead and understanding what to expect for your trip is more important now than ever. Visitors also have an opportunity and responsibility to resp
With crisp autumn days settling in, now is the time to venture out and explore the dazzling hues of the season. Maximize your time out in the fresh air and plan a day hike or a mountain bike ride. Don’t forget your camera, a water bottle, and a snack to fuel your day out on the trails. Or, there'
Relish in a lovely picnic under the vivid autumn maples of New England or a crisp morning stroll surrounded by golden aspens of the Mountain West. You can discover the beauty and exceptional fall colors on public lands in just about every state. As you venture out for this seasonal colorful display
Fishing is a favorite outdoor pastime for many people and a great way to support conservation. Start by learning more about fishing at a National Wildlife Refuge to inspire your next outdoor adventure story on public lands and waters. With more than 300 national wildlife refuges, 30 national fish ha
You may be familiar with traditional s’mores – graham cracker, chocolate, and roasted marshmallow – but what about the many ways you can change it up? Dress it up with all the fixin’s or swap out the graham cracker for something special – truly, the possibilities are endless. Check out these next-le
There’s nothing quite like enjoying an autumn ride with cooler temperatures, scenic views, and fewer crowds. This shoulder-season activity is well worth the extra planning and scheduled time away from daily life. Plan your fall riding adventure and learn the rules of the trail before arrival. Remem
Yosemite, Zion, Joshua Tree – for climbers, these names are synonymous with the best. Federal lands host some of the most visually spectacular, challenging, and exciting rock climbing areas in the world. Check out this list of climbing hot spots – whether you prefer bouldering, top-roping, lead cl
Admiring the iconic fall foliage of the East is sure to be a bucket list item, especially when you consider the sweeping mountain vistas, charming local towns and covered bridges, wildlife viewing, and leisurely urban walks that come with it. From the charismatic Northeast to the Appalachian footh
Campfires are an essential part of the camping experience. Stories are told around them, s'mores are roasted on them, bodies are warmed by them and memories are created. The best way to keep those memories from becoming a horror story is to follow some simple and important campfire safety tips.
Road trips are the quintessential summer outing often sparked by bucket list destinations and the desire to hit the open road to discover new landscapes. If you plan to enjoy your public lands and waters along the way, we offer these trip planning tips to get you started.
To many Latino visitors, a deep appreciation and constant admiration towards nature is inherently passed down from every generation. Latino immigrants have historically dignified our country’s land and the great outdoors through various conservation and labor efforts. Today, as Latinos continue to
Looking to strike gold and reserve a campsite at a popular area this peak season? Demand for popular campsites remains high, but with an alternate plan in mind, you may strike it rich with an unexpected off-the-beaten-path gem. Keep in mind, many locations that were first-come, first-served may now
America is filled with spooky little hidden gems, ghostly battlefields, old colonial towns with legends, ghost stories, and other lore. Spooky spirits and eerie energies even inhabit some of our federal public lands, from historic battlefields that come alive with the ghosts of America’s past, to na
Shimmering and swirling, somewhere between smoke and paint, this glowing colorful phenomenon creates a surreal experience. Your chances of viewing the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights, are greater the farther north you travel – think Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia. However, d
There are special places on earth where unique conditions exist to preserve fossils and give us a window into the past so that we can understand what plants and animals were like long before humans existed. Here are 10 locations where fossil remains are recognized around the globe for their signifi
Close your eyes and imagine yourself beneath a blanket of shimmering stars, watching constellations and galaxies take shape. It’s you, your friends or family, in the quiet of the night. If this sounds like your idea of a night out, check out this guide for finding your ideal stargazing spot. When y
Across the US, cabins, yurts and fire lookout towers provide a unique opportunity to stay in historic facilities and awe-inspiring locations. Many are open year-round and are surrounded by wildlife viewing opportunities, bountiful recreation and landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. B
There’s something special about striking out from a trailhead with your food and overnight gear strapped to your back. Traveling light, the anticipation of the hike is exciting and step-by-step you’re immersed in the unfolding landscape. Whether you’re planning a solo trek or your family’s first ov
Bears exist in and around a majority of our public lands across the United States and are native and natural members of the wildlife community. Seeing a bear can be an exciting experience, one that will form a lasting memory of your visit. By learning more about bears and their curious nature, you
If summer seems like it is passing you by, take a little time to discover a destination just down the road or beyond the horizon. We know what you are thinking: the places you want to visit are already booked and have been for months. We get it – the competition for popular locations is fierce! Fo
Throw a few supplies in a day pack, rendezvous with your nature-loving friends and get yourself to a trailhead for an outdoor adventure everyone will enjoy. Here are 10 places to hike a short distance from 10 major cities that offer excellent trail conditions, diverse landscapes, and spectacular vie
Hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters can explore America’s public lands and waters and relive age-old traditions or create new memories with family and friends. Whether you're a first-time fly-fisher, experienced rifle hunter, or looking for some target practice, public lands and waters i
Pounding sound, billowing smoke, and explosions in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, was the scene on December 7, 1941. Ships were damaged, some were sunk, many lives were changed and many lives were lost. The episode drew the United States into World War II. In Pearl Harbor, on the island of O
The first full week in May is National Wildflower Week. To celebrate, we’ve compiled wildflower images from Share the Experience photo contest participants. From fiery reds and oranges to majestic purples, these photos capture a rainbow of beautiful blossoms in forests, parks, and monuments across t
The richness of African American culture is one to be revered. From struggle does come strength. February is Black History Month, a tribute to African American men and women who have made significant contributions to America and the rest of the world. Travel with us as we take you on a tour of some
What started as Women’s History Week in March of 1981 expanded to become Women’s History Month by 1987, and every year, March is recognized as Women’s History Month by Presidential Proclamation. Today we celebrate the achievements of women in our American story. Here we honor seven women who were pi