Park fees waived for National Park Week, many enjoy

Kids climb the rocks at Great Falls Park in Virginia during National Park Week. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart,

McLean, Va. – Dramn Touray ventured to Great Falls Park for the first time on Saturday to take in the scenic beauty.

“Awestruck,” he said, describing the scenery. “It’s just awesome that this has been preserved for many generations to come and to be able to see and behold.”

Most days, visitors spend $3 to $5 to enter the park in McLean. But on Saturday, Touray drove in for free.

Saturday marked the start of National Park Week, an annual event that celebrates America’s national parks by waiving admission costs at each of the nation’s 397 parks for one week. Park entrance will remain free through Sunday, April 29.

Touray says he’s glad for the event that showcases the importance of the National Park Service and gives proof to the positive ways in which tax dollars spent.

Craig Madison, a ranger at Great Falls Park, said many park visitors were pleased with the free admission, although some still wanted to pay in support of the park.

Great Falls Park is an 800-acre parcel of land through which the Potomac River runs. It spans the Maryland/Virginia state line and offers staggering views of the steep, jagged cliffs that line the rushing river. The park features miles of flat toe-path that bikers, joggers and walkers can enjoy, as well as challenging hikes up into cliffs.

Jared Terry came out with his sister on Saturday for a run. The Sterling resident frequents the park occasionally, but says he’s still amazed by the area’s beauty each time he visits.

“Near D.C., to have this right here in our back door is pretty amazing,” he says.

For those who can’t take advantage of National Park Week, entrance fees will also be waived on June 9 to celebrate “Get Outdoors Day.”

For more information on the park, check its website.

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