ON THE ROAD: Many a Californian grew up with a View-Master, like many a kid in other states did. Did you have one? Yep, as we thought. But children of the Golden State could peer into those two little windows and know there was a real possibility that a weekend family road trip or a school outing might lead them to Half Dome or El Capitan or the tallest trees on the planet. We live among treasures in California, including some of the most famous national parks in a system that brims with parks that are household words. What are some of California's stars? Well, Joshua Tree, of course, and Death Valley, the redwoods, the sequoias, and Yosemite all ring bells for many a traveler. And while we're encouraged to get out and enjoy them any and every day of the year -- the colder, quieter months are especially nice and semi-painless with traffic -- we all should seize a certain few days in late April. That's when National Park Week arrives, and five full days of skipping the entrance fees to the parks that usually charge admission. The free days are April 22 through 26.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW... Over half the national parks -- 268 out of 401 -- do not charge a get-in fee, regardless of the day or time of year. Some do, like Yosemite. And annual passes always help alleviate some of the fees (not to mention they help the parks). If you find yourself returning time and again to, say, the Channel Islands, maybe this National Park Week is the moment you set out for something new. After all, View-Master-worthy sights are really just a few hours away, or less, for most Californians. And to access them without admission? That's awesome, indeed.