npld_logo_no-line_cmyk_coatedNational Public Lands Day is a rather dry name for an annual event that’s actually pretty cool for two reasons: it gets you into any National Park for free, and it’s a catalyst for volunteer programs in the parks that you can be a part of.

Saturday, Sept. 26 is 2015’s National Public Lands Day, which National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis describes as “a unique opportunity for visitors and volunteers to reflect on their important role as stewards of America’s public lands.” And what better place to do all that reflecting than in a park: It’s one of a handful of days during the year that the park service throws open the gates without an admission fee.

How can you give back for that welcoming gesture? The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation annually enlists about 175,000 volunteers at 2,132 sites nationally — including more than 100 national parks in 37 states — to do cleanup work and support activities like Family Hiking Day on the Appalachian Trail.

You can visit www.publiclandsday.org for more information and a list of project sites if you’d like to lend a hand: volunteer for a National Park Service project, and you’ll get a free pass good for a future visit to any national park, too!

Volunteer programs will be taking place this Saturday at these National Parks:

  • Alabama: Russell Cave National Monument
  • Alaska: Sitka National Historical Park
  • Arizona: Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Saguaro National Park, Tumacacori National Historical Park- Juan Bautista de Anza Trail
  • Arkansas: Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
  • California: Channel Islands National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national Park, Yosemite National Park
  • Colorado: Dinosaur National Monument, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument,
  • Connecticut: Weir Farm National Historic Site
  • Delaware: First State National Historical Park
  • Washington, DC: National Capital Parks- East, National Mall and Memorial Parks
  • Florida: Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Georgia; Chattanooga National Military Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
  • Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Iowa; Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
  • Kansas; Fort Scott National Historic Site
  • Louisiana; Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve/Chalmette Battlefield
  • Maryland: Catoctin Mountain Park, Fort Foote Park,  Fort Washington Park, Greenbelt Park
  • Massachusetts: Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, Lowell National Historical Park, Minute Man National Historical Park
  • Michigan: River Raisin National Battlefield, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Minnesota: Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Pipestone National Monument
  • Mississippi: Natchez Trace Parkway/Blackland Prairie National Scenic Trail, Vicksburg National Military Park
  • Missouri: George Washington Carver National Monument
  • Nebraska: Homestead National Monument of America, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
  • Nevada: Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • New Hampshire: Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
  • New York: Fire Island National Seashore, Gateway National Recreation Area, Governors Island, Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site
  • North Carolina: Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Fontana Dam, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, James A. Garfield National Historic Site, William Howard Taft National Historic Site
  • Oregon: Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
  • Pennsylvania: Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Flight 93 National Memorial, Gettysburg National Military Park, Independence National Historical Park, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River
  • South Carolina: Congaree National Park
  • South Dakota: Mulberry Bend Overlook and Trail, Wind Cave National Park
  • Tennessee: Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Fortress Rosecrans and Old Fort Park, Shiloh National Military Park, Stones River National Battlefield, Fortress Rosecrans
  • Texas: Big Bend National Park, Padre Island National Seashore, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
  • Utah: Arches National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dinosaur National Monument