Fresno Beehive

Want to get into Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon free? Here’s your first chance

Half Dome looms over a meadow, as green foliage gives way to Fall colors while visitors explore Yosemite Valley. Entrance to the park is waived on Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Half Dome looms over a meadow, as green foliage gives way to Fall colors while visitors explore Yosemite Valley. Entrance to the park is waived on Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Late last year, the National Park Service announced its admission-free days for 2018.

The first happens Monday, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“National parks connect all of us with our country’s amazing nature, culture and history,” National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds said in a release at the time. “The days that we designate as fee-free for national parks mark opportunities for the public to participate in service projects, enjoy ranger-led programs, or just spend time with family and friends exploring these diverse and special places.”

So, admission to the parks, currently $30 per vehicle for Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon, is waived for the day. Other activities fees – for camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours – are still applicable.

This is one of just four entrance fee-free days in 2018. Along with MLK Day, the park will offer free admission on April 21 (for the First Day of National Park Week), Sept. 22 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

That number is down from 10 days in previous years and comes as the Park Service considers increasing fees to highly visited parks during peak seasons as a means of dealing with aging infrastructure and deep budget cuts. That would mean more than a doubling of fees for parks like Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon., which does not sit well with some, including the state of California.

The annual “America the Beautiful” pass would remain $80 and provide entrance to all federal lands.

That includes Yosemite, where you can embrace the wonders of nature and still get your Starbuck fix.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

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