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February 11, 2015 at 11:29 AM

Free entrance to national parks this weekend. But where’s winter?

SnipImage

The ground is bare up at the 5,242-foot-elevation Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park in this webcam view from the visitor center Wednesday. Normally it would be deep in snow.

Got the urge to get outside this weekend — and save money? It’s a free-admission weekend at all 405 U.S. national parks Feb. 14-16 in honor of Presidents Day.

In Washington state, that means there’s no entrance fee at the biggies such as Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park.  Smaller National Park Service units, such as  the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, also will be free on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

If you’re heading to Rainier, don’t count on cavorting  in the usually popular  snow play area up  at the Paradise visitor area where — in most years — you can go sledding in deep, deep snow. It was still closed Wednesday because of insufficient snow; it needs a five-foot minimum to open, usually no problem at snowy Rainier.

It’s the same sad story up in the high country of  Olympic National Park. At the park’s usually snow-laden Hurricane Ridge, the Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area hasn’t yet opened its ski lift and rope tow because of lack of snow (there’s lots of bare ground as the park webcam showed Wednesday morning).

Here are the other days this year when national parks will offer free entrance:

April 18-19 — Opening weekend of National Park Week

Aug. 25 — National Park Service Birthday

Sept. 26 — National Public Lands Day

Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

Washington State Parks are not offering fee-free days this weekend, but here’s the schedule of state-park free entrance days for 2015:

March 19 — In honor of Washington State Parks’ 101st birthday

April 19 — A spring Saturday free day

April 22 — Earth Day

May 10 — A spring Saturday free day

June 7 and 8 — In honor of National Trails Day and WDFW Free Fishing Weekend

June 14 — National Get Outdoors Day

Aug. 25 — In honor of National Park Service’s birthday

Sept. 27 — National Public Lands Day

Nov. 11 — Veteran’s Day weekend

The snow is sparse - by Mount Rainier National Park standards - up at the Paradise area.  The Paradise Inn at the background normally would be walled in by mounds of deep snow.

The snow is sparse – by Mount Rainier National Park standards – up at the Paradise area in this shot from a webcam Wednesday morning. The Paradise Inn in the background normally would be walled in by mounds of deep snow.

 

 

 

Comments | More in Fees, national parks | Topics: fee-free days, national parks, Washington state parks

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