It's National Park Week

Tell your boss it's a national holiday and you're free to hit the trail
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Tell your boss it's a national holiday and you're free to hit the trail

If you were looking for an excuse to head outside, start lacing up those boots: This week is the presidentially proclaimed National Park Week.

National parks all over the country are celebrating with loads of activities to encourage people to take advantage of these protected lands, including:

  • Yosemite, CA April 25 - For Junior Ranger Day, kids can help park rangers restore habitat and meet search and rescue dogs.
  • Biscayne, FL April 20-24 - Take a discounted, ranger-guided boat trip to the northern Florida Keys.
  • North Cascades, WA April 22 - Help rangers clean up the Newhalem Creek Campground by landscaping and improving trails on Earth Day.
  • Great Smoky Mountains, NC April 25 - Kids can compete in animal olympics and make beeswax candles and pottery whistles.

With a decline in long distance vacation travel thanks to the struggling economy, national parks are the perfect place for everything from an afternoon hike to a weeklong, family trek. Everyone is starting to catch backcountry fever, including filmmaker Ken Burns.

With his new documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, Burns hopes to have an effect on more than just still photos—he's striving for record attendance at our nation's protected lands. He told the Kitsap Sun, "We just hope that the parks superintendents (will be) angry at us because they have more people than they know what to do with."

While we're all for enjoying the beauty of your own backyard through national parks—especially this week—we're not really sure how stoked we are on overcrowded trails. But we still admire his vision, so grab your trekking poles, find your nearest national park, and get out there already.

--Morgan Keys

Image credit: Birdfreak.com (via Flickr)