Now that the air outside is thick with spring, many are thinking of the activities that have been shelved for the past six months. The National Park Service is offering an incentive for those that have not yet explored the outdoors with National Park Week. During the week of April 17-25, the Park Service is waiving entrance fees to all of its 392 parks and has filled the week with events and activities for the whole family at parks from coast to coast.
Throughout the state, Colorado's National Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites and Trails are alive with hiking, history, camping, wildlife exploration, fishing and mountain climbing. The animals are busy preparing themselves for their upcoming arrivals. Native grasses and wildflowers are reaching skyward for the warmth of the new season and gravity is pulling six months of snowpack through thousands of streams.
Each of Colorado's fifteen National Park sites is rich in uniqueness and history, but three are especially popular among children.
Roll down a sand dune, build a sand castle in Medano Creek or go on a search for ptarmigans, marmots and big horned sheep in alpine tundra. The Great Sand Dunes encompasses ten different ecosystems, all with its own uniqueness and variety of species. Don't let the 200 plus mile drive to this park deter you, it is a favorite of children of all ages.
About 100 miles from Denver is one of the world's riches deposits of fossils at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Florissant, Colorado. This could be just the place for the kiddo who can perfectly pronounce over one hundred Latin names of prehistoric animals to spend the day. Hike the trails that now cover a once lush and rainy Redwood forest.
Closest to home and encompassing over 400 square miles of forest, meadow and mountain range is Rocky Mountain National Park. Climb the boulders on the trail to Gem Lake. Entertain the children on the trail to Cub Lake by searching for humming birds, beaver dams and wildflowers. Keep the older children active with fishing, mountain climbing or horse back riding. Due to its expanse, Rocky Mountain National Park offers a new experience with each visit.
Each park offers age-specific activities through the Junior Rangers Program for children K-8. For the details of this program and other park details, visit the National Park Service.