GIVING BACK: While there are a number of fee-free days at the national parks throughout the year, and an entire week each spring, National Public Lands Day is a bit different. Oh, there's no admission charged to get into the national parks that usually charge a fee; that's the same as other fee-free days. But National Public Lands Day is truly about giving back and helping the land. Over 170,000 people regularly help out, meaning that they're not just entering our parks to take snapshots and create funny poses in front of magnificent vistas; they are there to plant trees, clean trails, harvest food, and do the countless tasks that must be done to keep our wild spaces looking beautiful and accessible to all. Of course, if you want to visit one of our splendid natural spaces to just play, that's fine, but if you want to help? You can.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 29: That's the date for 2012. "More than 2,100 sites" will be visited by volunteers, ready to work with gloves and sunblock on. And people ready to lend a hand won't merely be in the national parks; they'll be hitting local community gardens and green spaces, too. If you do want to go the national park route, for a little early autumn recreation, you can; here's the info from NPS, and a look ahead to the last fee-free days of the year, Veteran's Day Weekend.