Free Adventuring for 4th Graders All Year Long.

Do you know a fourth grader better yet do you live with a fourth grader?  If so then you are in luck. Starting today every fourth grader in the US is eligible for a pass that provides free access to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries.

Every Kid in a Park Pass

We come and go, but the land is always here and the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it for a little while. Willa Cather

The new federal initiative with the moniker “Every Kid in a Park” offers the possibilities for ready-made family adventures. The program is expansive, inclusive and I think terrific. No matter where you live in the United States, there’s a site within two hours of your home. Think about stargazing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or hiking to an ancient pueblo at Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff.

Next year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service and this program makes it easy to select a park and celebrate with a visit. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year and grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.

Grant Kohrs Junior Ranger Program

Grant Kohrs National Monument in Montana connects kids with the spirit of the American West.

From Boston and Philadelphia to Yellowstone and Yosemite the possibilities are endless. From hiking within the shadow of Mount Rainier or taking selfies at Mount Rushmore to air-boating in the Everglades or snorkeling within the US Virgin Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the choices for a world-class family adventure are many.

Fourth graders are invited to log onto  and complete an entertaining, educational activity in order to obtain and print their paper pass. The paper version may be exchanged for a more durable one at participating federal locations nationwide.

Pueblo at Wupatki National Monument

The ancient pueblos of Wupatki National Monument are perched between the Painted Desert and Ponderosa highlands of Northern Arizona.

Parents visiting the new website will find additional links for more information on planning trips to nearby public lands and some of the most remarkable places in America. Grant Kohrs National Monument demonstrates the cowboy spirit typical of the American frontier. Think about walking in the cloud forest of El Junque in Puerto Rico or counting roadrunners in Saguaro National Park near Tucson.  Fly a kite on Cape Hatteras in North Carolina or kayak within Acadia National Park in Maine.

So many great ways to celebrate 100 years with or without a fourth grader.

Nancy Nelson-Duac         Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.


Earth-Friendly Family Vacations – Think More Shades of Green

Earth Day celebrations provide participants with ways to take action and make the planet greener, bluer, safer, and healthier through daily actions. Earth friendly family vacations do all of the above plus they do not add to carbon emissions, contaminate water supplies, drain energy, or cause extra waste. The choices include tour companies, resorts, hotels, hostels, cabins, and campgrounds with responsible earth-friendly business practices which demonstrate respect for the planet and enable guests to enjoy holiday time and leave no trace.

Earth-friendly swing in Tuscany.

Earth-friendly family vacation choices span the planet and include simple pleasures and basic fun with no trace left behind.

The Green Spots folder featured at features hundreds of earth friendly family vacation ideas. Choices span the globe from the US to Canada and Costa Rica to Switzerland. They include basic camping experiences, farm stays, hostels, cabins, lodges, all-inclusive resorts, and green luxury in the city.

Five shades of family vacation green include:

Mammoth Cave National Park and Hotel in Kentucky – earth-friendly shade of green.

Terranea in Southern California – a bluer shade of green.

Arenal Lodge in Costa Rica – rainforest shade of green.

Abram’s Creek in West Virginia – a shade of forest green.

Woodloch Pines Resort in Pennsylvania – an all-inclusive shade of green.

To view the most recent earth-friendly vacation ideas browse Green Spots at

I am sipping my green tea and planning my next green escape.

Nancy Nelson-Duac         Curator of the Good Stuff for the Files.