DECEMBER'S TO-DO LIST: Without a doubt, the last month on the calendar is just about the calenderiest month of the year. By that we mean that schedulers and planners and list apps and date sheets have a way of dominating December, as we plan holiday get-togethers and out-of-town travel and the next semester of school and what's ahead for our new year's work projects. Absolutely, August and September can be very calender-heavy, too, especially with the fresh school year on the horizon, but the bustling final days of December have an impressive way of out-calendering every other period. With this in mind, it's fun to go to the calendar when something involving pure pleasure, crisp air, and the non-spending of cash is involved. We're speaking about the free days on the National Park Service roster, those special occasions when the parks that charge admission waive their fees for very important reasons. They're aren't a lot of them, but they're still plentiful enough, and if you want to capitalize upon every single one of 'em by making sure you're in or near a national park that's waived its fee, you only need to plan ahead. And as luck would have it the 2016 free dates were announced at the very beginning of what we already dubbed the calenderiest month of the year.
WHICH MAKES YOUR DECEMBER PLANNING... a bit lighter, knowing that you're also planning for a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in the coming year. Here is the list of the 127 parks and monuments that do charge -- there are eleven in the Golden State -- and here are the free dates, from the first to the last. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the initial fee-free outing at these parks, on Jan. 18, and Veterans Day, on Nov. 11, is the last. And while there are a few single day events, there are multiple days, too, around National Park Week in April and National Park Service's birthday in August. Grabbed that full-to-brimming calendar yet? Already dreaming of doing a slew of different parks on every day on the free days rundown? It's bucket-list-y with an extra heaping of do-ability. Start calendaring, and contacting your traveling companions, now.