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