First Day of Summer: Free Entrance to National Parks & More

A cloudy morning at Pinnacles National Monument near Soledad, CA | Photo by Zach Behrens/KCET

Tuesday, June 21st is the first official day of summer, and with that comes a long and (hopefully) sunny day of fun opportunities.

National Parks: While not a weekend day, those who can take advantage of this will save some money and enjoy lighter crowds. While the two National Park Service units closest to Los Angeles--Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands--are fee free year-round (you still have to pay for transit to the islands, however), many others parks in California that charge fees, save for several days throughout the year like Tuesday.

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Public Lands: The Bureau of Land Management is also celebrating the first day of summer by waiving "recreation-related fees" to the National System of Public Lands. But even with California's plethora of public lands--they manage 15.2 million acres, nearly 15% of the state's land area, of public land--there are no fee areas, at least according to a list attached to BLM's announcement.

Just Get Out: It's the longest day of the year, so take advantage of the light wherever you go. Here are a couple ideas in Los Angeles:

  • Secret Stairs: The Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates, a group of residents that are "dedicated to the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of the many walk streets across Los Angeles," are hosting a Tomato Pie walk. It starts at the corner of Hyperion & Tracy in Silver Lake at 6:30 p.m. for a 90-minute stair hike in the neighborhood, followed by dinner at Tomato Pie.
  • Griffith Park: L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park, tends to host solstice and equinox hikes a few times a year. This time around the hike to Mount Hollywood begins at 5:30 p.m. from the Griffith Observatory parking lot. Take note, however; the councilmember is combining this hike with his swearing in ceremony for his third term so this isn't intended to be a quick out-and-back (but no one is stopping you from ditching the ceremony).
  • LA River: KCET's very own Departures has the ultimate guide to the Los Angeles River. Check out their Field Guide for tons of ideas.

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCETLink's Editor-in-Chief of Blogs, where he oversees website editorial and advises on projects. When he does write, he mostly covers local government, environment, and the outdoors.
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