In celebration of National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and to promote conservation efforts, the National Park Service is forgoing entry fees to sites across the country on Saturday, Sept. 25.  

For New Mexicans, this means you can take the day to visit any number of the highly-regarded public institutions in the state without cost, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, the beloved White Sands National Park and many others, according to the park service



Beyond New Mexico, there are more than 400 parks total in the park service's catalog, all of which are “fee-free” this Saturday. 

“This celebration brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country,” according to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the annual organizer of NPLD. 

NPLD has been historically held on the fourth Saturday of September since 1994, waiving entry fees to parks to forge land stewardship between community members and parks. It is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event dedicated to land conservation and advancing environmental literacy. 

“The lands encompass national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, forests, grasslands, marine sanctuaries, lakes and reservoirs, as well as state, county and city parks that are managed by public agencies but belong to and are enjoyed by all of us,” NEEF’s webpage said.

In addition to free entry at parks throughout the state, there are numerous volunteer events taking place in honor of NPLD.

Conversations regarding diversity and accessibility are being supported by NPS. The framework for executing NPLD events nationwide has been adapted to include virtual events and seeks to engage both education and workplace settings with the ongoing conservation efforts, as well as work with “corporate partners” for grant support, according to NEEF’s webpage. 

This year’s theme is “more ways to connect to nature,” a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic broadening opportunities for accessing nature, whether it be through in-person, virtual or hybrid mediums. 

“The goal in 2021 is to highlight that diversity — in public lands, people, and the ways people value and care for these spaces — by supporting in-person, virtual and hybrid NPLD events,” according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Saturday will be one of six “fee-free” dates put on by the park service in 2021, according to their website. The last fee-free date of the year will be on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. 

Rebecca Hobart is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo