Do you have your passport? That is your National Park Passport. Earlier this spring I visited the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. America is rich with some of the largest and most notable landmarks in the world. The National Park Service man-ages more than 388 national parks, national monuments, and national historic sites.
At the visitors center, I noticed a book called the National Park Passport. This little passport is a fun way to document your visit. Like a passport stamp from the U.S. Customs, the park service can stamp your National Park Passport book to record and commemorate your travels.
While planning a trip to Vermont last month, I decided to break up my trip with something new and educa-tional. I stopped at the Shenandoah Skyline National Park Visitors Center and picked up a book and got my stamp. From there I scouted out my route to Vermont and hit as many parks as I could during the trip. Working maps and the GPS gave me hours of fun riding and a sense of purpose. By the end of my 10 day trip I had visited eight parks.
North Carolina has nine national parks in our great state. These parks include the Blue Ridge Parkway and the National Heritage Area (Asheville), Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Manteo), Cape Lookout National Seashore (Harkers Island), Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site (Flat Rock), Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (Manteo), Guilford Courthouse National Military Park (Greensboro), Moores Creek National Battlefield (Currie), and Wright Brothers National Memorial (Manteo).
There are fees for visiting some of the parks. Day passes are available and the price varies from park to park. The National Park Service offers a seasonal pass called the America the Beautiful: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. These passes can be purchased for $80. There are three types of lifetime passes available. A Senior Citizen’s lifetime pass is advised for U.S. citi-zens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Second, a Lifetime Access Pass is available for those with permanent disabilities. To show proof of disabilities you will have to show documentation. Acceptable documentation includes: state-ment by a licensed physician; document issued by a federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a state agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency. Finally, a Volunteer Pass is free for those who acquire 500 service hours on a cumulative basis.
Sadly, there is no free admission for our military folks. While doing my exploring I wanted something a little more than my National Park Visitors Guide book. I did a quick search on my iPhone’s app store and found the National Parks Companion app. This app gives great infor-mation at your fingertips. The app gives you the park’s locations by state, helpful information about the park, visitor center addresses and phone numbers. The app even has a place that allows you to check off which park you have visited.
Whether by car or motorcycle we all have to do some fun exploring. I hope you get a chance to visit North Carolina’s National Parks. For more information about the National Park Service visit www.nps.gov.
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