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The Deal: More than 100 of America’s national parks typically charge an entrance fee — but on select dates in 2011, visitors will get in for free. Your best chance to explore is during National Parks Week, which runs April 16 – 24 (that includes two full weekends). The other free dates are the first day of summer (June 21), Public Lands Day (September 24) and Veterans Day weekend (November 11 – 13).
Included in this deal are not only some big-name national parks — such as Acadia, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon — but also famous battlefields like Vicksburg and Little Big Horn, and historic sites like the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Catch: Although most of the free days take place outside of the parks’ summer high season, you can expect this deal to draw big crowds, especially if you go on a weekend with nice weather. Arrive as early as possibly to beat the hordes.
The Competition: If you’d like to visit a few national parks in one escorted trip, this summer package from Amtrak Vacations might be right up your alley. Book early and you can save up to $400 off Amtrak’s 11-night Peaks to Pacific package, which includes accommodations, most meals, sightseeing in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and scenic train travel along the way. With the discount, the package starts at $4,489 per person.
Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Vacation Package Deals.
— written by Sarah Schlichter