5 national parks to visit for free in 2016

America's National Parks have a huge mix of experiences for the outdoor traveler and there's never been a better time to visit than 2016.

In honor of the National Park Service's centennial year, 16 days throughout 2016 will be free to visitors of all the national parks.

We've rounded up the best parks to visit during these freebies to take full advantage of the park service's 100th birthday.

Jan. 18: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is just two hours outside of LA. Photo: Flickr/Don Graham

Joshua Tree National Park is a climber's paradise, with lots of boulders for every skill level.

The park has miles of hiking trails at varying elevations, so everyone from beginners to experienced outdoor enthusiasts will have something enjoyable to do.

The park is home to the unique tree of the same name. Joshua Trees are found in park's desert landscape in abundance, making for breathtaking scenery and an Instagram worthy day-hike.

Temperatures average around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, making the desert a wonderful winter retreat.
It's only two hours outside of Los Angeles.

RELATED: Book one of these Joshua Tree locations for your next winter trip

April 16 through 24: Arches National Park

Arches

The natural arches in southern Utah are a sight to behold. Photo: Flickr/Yukun Chen


Arches National Park is in Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.

The spring and fall are the best times to visit Arches National Park when the weather is temperate and the temperature fluctuations aren't too extreme.

The red rock formations are a sight to behold. The natural archways and balancing rocks are the most unique rock formations in the country, with widths ranging in size from 3 feet to 300 feet.

The region's earliest people settled here and some ancient remains are still visible.

You'll want lots of time to explore and hike this national treasure, which makes the free days in April a perfect time to visit.

Aug. 25 through 28: Sequoia National Park

SequoiaNationalPark001

The park is home to the largest trees in the world. Photo: Travis Burke


Mother Nature has an affinity for making us humans feel small and nowhere is this truer than in the Sequoia National Park.

The park is home to the largest trees in the world.

One such tree, General Sherman, is the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet.

It's estimated to be over 2,000 years old and stands as tall as a 26-story building.
T
he park was the second ever national park and the first ever formed to protect a living organism.

The summer months are a wonderful time to visit.

RELATED: Walking with giants in Sequoia National Park

Sept. 24: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

carlsbad cavern

The Carlsbad Caverns National Park are the only cave with a paved walkway, making it easy accessible to the public. Photo: Travis Burke

The Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico can get really hot over the summer, making the cooler autumn months a perfect time to visit.

The cave is the only commercial cave with a paved walkway, making for an easy way to explore a centuries old natural wonder.

Also, thousands of bats fly out of the cave in the early evening from mid-April to late October for their dinner of insects.

Rangers lead free “Bat Flights” talks during this time and don't worry the bats don't attack people.

Nov. 11: Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon

Visitors can visit the Grand Canyon National Park for free during 16 days in 2016. Photo: Flickr/Alan English

Grand Canyon National Park is perhaps most synonymous with the great American road trip, and for good reason.

The park in northern Arizona is one of those sights that can only truly be appreciated in-person.

Jaw-dropping vistas of the carved out stone boggle the mind and force a an unrelenting respect for the strength of the Colorado River, which carved the canyon over thousands of years.

The fall is the best time to visit since temperatures begin to cool and the crowds begin to thin, giving you a better chance at securing a campground or hotel room.

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