A look at some newsworthy tidbits from around the National Park System.
And Then There Were 59
Proving what you're called is important, heading to President Obama's desk is H.R. 3641, which, if signed, will turn Pinnacles National Monument into Pinnacles National Park. For those who track such things, that means there will be 59, not 58 "national parks" in the National Park System if the president affixes his signature to the measure.
While the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., notes the unique geology and vegetation that can be found within the monument, it also points out the "economic and tourism potential"... the new name will spur.
This no doubt will cause a frenzy among supporters of similar name changes for Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California, Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah, and Colorado National Monument in Colorado.
It also will require the Park Service to order new stationery, maps, and highway signs, and require Eastern National to come up with a new Passport® To Your National Parks cancellation stamp.
Fee-Free Days Waning This Year
Letting the public into the National Park System for free can be costly to the National Park Service. So costly, in fact, that the agency has scaled back the number of fee-free days in 2013 to 11 days, down by almost a full week from 2012.
Park Service spokesman David Barna told the New York Times that each fee-free day costs the agency between $700,000 and $1 million in lost revenues.
“It’s not a good time for us to be turning down revenue, but it’s great marketing for concessionaires,” Mr. Barna said, “so we tried to strike a balance.”
Which days will be free for park entry in 2013? Here's the list:
* January 21, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
* April 22-26, National Park Week
* August 25, National Park Service Birthday
* September 28, National Public Lands Day
* November 9-11, Veterans Day weekend
Which days are missing? National Get Outdoors Day, which fell on June 9 last year; a few days from either end of National Park Week have been lopped off; and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day features just one fee-free day this year, down from three a year ago.
Just the same, 265 of the 398 national parks never charge an entrance fee. And if you pick up the $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, you can get into as many parks as many times as you want throughout the year.
Check Out The Majestic Mountains Loop
When you look at the clustering of some national parks -- Yellowstone and Grand Teton, for instance, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, or Olympic and Mount Rainier -- you would be remiss if you didn't consider visiting all in a specific cluster in one trip.
To help you figure out a plan of attack for Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, a new website has popped up with suggestions. The Majestic Mountains Loop site offers "3 parks in 3 days."
"Try the Loop in 3 days or take your time and discover more area treasures. You can follow this sample itinerary, reverse the order, or make up your own…possibilities are endless!" the site tells us.
Created by Visit Visalia, Fly Fresno, and Yosemite This Year, the site lays out daily itineraries for the three parks. At the same time, the site also points to sidetrips just outside the parks, such as the Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch near Sequoia and the Madera Wine Trail near Yosemite.