GRANDEUR AND GLORY: It deserves no spoiler alert, and we don't have to be hush-hush as we mention it, but here goes: The National Parks? They're always there. Always. The sequoias don't pack up and head to a warehouse each night at 10 p.m. and the boulders of Joshua Tree have a rather profound way of staying put, regardless if visitors are around to see them or not. So it would not be inaccurate to say that it is always National Park Week, Day, Night, Hour, Minute, as long as rivers are flowing and cliffs are, uh, cliffing and the wilderness is being its wonderfully wild self. But an actual scheduled National Park Week is something nice and indeed important for we humans to reflect upon. It gives us a chance to pay tribute to these epic destinations, many of which are at our proverbial doorstep here in California. And, indeed, it gives us a chance to slip in free, at least for a couple of days in April, and at least at a few of the parks that typically charge admission.
AND THOSE DAYS ARE... Saturday, April 19 and Sunday, April 20. That happens to be Easter weekend, as well, so a lot of families might be on the road and near a natural wonder that's ripe for the (free) visiting. But even if you can't make the fee-free days, National Park Week is, indeed, a week. That means it extends from April 19 through 27 and it is chock full of special doings. Point Reyes National Seashore will feature a gray whale-focused to-do during the week, and Junior Rangers get the spotlight in the Santa Monica Mountains. Wherever you go to experience nature, and however you do it -- by hiking, volunteering, bird-watching, rafting, or just chillaxing -- the week is a fine time to reflect on these natural gifts and all that they bring.