Black Friday is traditionally an indoor day — eager shoppers flood stores to get an early start on holiday shopping and take advantage of nation-wide sales.
But this year, state parks are offering a different kind of bargain. To encourage people to enjoy nature and avoid the crowds, many states are letting visitors into their parks for free.
The movement to get families outside on Black Friday began gaining traction last year due to outdoor retailer REI’s #OptOutside campaign. For the second year in a row, all of REI’s 149 stores are closed November 25 to encourage its staff and customers to be outdoors with family instead.
This season, the chain has partnered with more than 275 organisations, from nonprofits to state governments, to extend the campaign. Many state park services have either teamed up with REI or simply embraced the #OptOutside message, and at least 12 states are letting visitors enter and park for free. Here’s the full list:
Arizona: Customers who picked up a free pass at one of the state’s REI locations before Thanksgiving can enter any state park for free. Passes are also available at the Arizona State Park Outdoor Recreation Information Center.
California: 116 state parks are offering limited free passes, though visitors have to reserve one online before entering (unfortunately, many are sold out already).
Colorado: All 42 state parks are free.
Delaware: All 21 state parks are free.
Indiana: All 34 state parks and lakes are free.
Kansas: All 26 state parks are free.
Michigan: All 103 state parks are free.
Minnesota: All 75 state parks and recreation areas are free.
Nevada: All state parks are free for those who picked up a pass from REI before Thanksgiving. You might have to pay if you didn’t grab one in advance.
New Mexico: All 33 state parks are free.
Oregon: 197 state parks have no entrance or parking fees, though many of these are free year-round
Vermont: All state parks are free today, and will continue to be for the rest of the off-season.
Many state, including Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, also offer free admission to most parks year round.
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