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Loreah Winlow | 04.05.2019

If you're like me, being in a national park when all national park fees are waived Saturday, April 20th, sounds like a total nightmare. Don't get me wrong: I love to be outside, but the $35 it would normally cost is worth it to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic and shoulder-to-shoulder photography.

Of course, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Saguaro are all unbelievable places, but don't expect a quick trip in and out on April 20th. Try something new: Take the dirt road less traveled!

With that in mind, let's talk about some national parks and monuments that will fly under the radar this year and give you an opportunity to actually explore them instead of sitting in traffic!

Here's a short list of some special places worth seeing in the Southwest that won't leave you stuck in the pack:

 


Kachina Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument. Kyle Jenkins.

Utah

 


Wupatki National Monument is home to ball courts, the northern most reach of Mesoamerican cultural influence. Matthew Durant.

Arizona

 


The stunning and stark White Sands National Monument. Daniel Sherman.

New Mexico

We want you to love the outdoors as much as we do, and we're here to help!

Here are some Tips & Tricks to enjoying and contributing to a better Earth Day:

  1. Carpool: Grab a group of friends or load up the family and travel in one car to your favorite outdoor destination. Not only will it reduce your carbon emissions, but you'll find parking much quicker. 
  2. Pack a lunch: Many parks have dining options within them; however, the single-use plastics, cost of food, and long lines aren't worth it. Plan ahead, pack a picnic lunch for the whole crew, and spend more time enjoying the park!
  3. Get there early: Maybe even the day before! Late-April is a great time to camp in the Southwest. So make your journey toward your park of choice the day before, camp, wake up early, grab a cup of coffee (don't forget your reusable mug or metal straw), and be first in line! 
  4. Take photos, not nature: The only thing you should be taking out of these special places are photos and your trash!
  5. Make it a habit: Should you love the experience, consider buying an Interagency Annual Pass for $80. It may seem like a lot at first, but visiting a national park three times in 12 months more than pays for it! Sounds like a great deal to me, especially because it applies to all national parks throughout the U.S.

No matter where you venture to this coming Earth Week, I wish you a wonderful outdoor experience, full of learning and new found respect for this awesome planet we are so lucky to live on. See you outside!

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