“Our presidents have lived, worked and played in national parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “This weekend is the perfect time to visit a national park and share a connection with one of our presidents.”
Every president has strong associations with national parks. In fact, the White House – the home and office of each present since John Adams – is a national park. Although he never lived in the White House, President George Washington’s ties to national parks include Independence Hall (Pa.), Federal Hall (N.Y.), Great Falls Park (Va.), Fort Necessity (Pa.), George Washington Birthplace (Va.), and the Washington Monument (D.C.). President Barack Obama has visited Grand Canyon (Ariz.) and Yellowstone (Wyo.) national parks with his family. He has also created five new national parks via presidential proclamation, including Cesar E. Chavez National Monument (Calif.) and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument (Md.).
In addition to providing free entrance, many parks will host special events to celebrate the holiday. At Jimmy Carter National Historic Site (Ga.), President Carter and his wife Rosalynn will share memories of their time in the White House. Audience members will have the chance to interact with the president, including students in attendance from Plains High School, as well as students connected via live stream from Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (Kan.) and Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (Ark.).
Other activities in national parks include a George Washington birthday party at Valley Forge National Historical Park (Pa.), a guided evening tour of the monuments on the National Mall (D.C.) and a talk about President Andrew Jackson and his role in the Battle of New Orleans at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (La). A complete calendar of events, and presidential travel itineraries and lesson plans, are available on the Presidents Day page of www.nps.gov.
The National Park Service will also waive admission fees on five additional days in 2015 – April 18 and 19 (the first weekend of National Park Week), August 25 (the National Park Service’s 99th birthday), September 26 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).
National park passes that provide free or discounted admission year round are available for active duty military members and their dependents, senior citizens, and people with permanent disabilities.