New Google Maps Just Made Your Summer Hike Adventures Easier
By “easier” we mean easier to navigate. With help from National Park Service park rangers and directors, the latest update
By “easier” we mean easier to navigate. With help from National Park Service park rangers and directors, the latest update for Google Maps will elevate users’ and parkgoers’ experience with displays of an entire trail route and photo pins of popular sites. Google shared the news with Travel + Leisure just in time for National Park Week.
Google Maps Will Give You Everything You Need
No more getting lost mid-trail or being uncertain about the closest exit. This new update from Google will highlight an entire trail route from start to finish and will offer walking and/or biking directions to the closest end of the trail rather than the center. Google Maps will also include details about the trail (ex. difficulty level), show popular places using photo pins (ex. attractions, campgrounds, visitor center, etc.), and display the park entrance on the basemap.
“As someone who has visited 24 of the US National Parks, I’m really excited we’re bringing these helpful updates to Google Maps that will make it easier for people to explore, navigate and discover things to do in parks around the country,” said Michael Curtes, the product manager for Google Maps. “Now, Google Maps has all the information you need in one place so you can save time planning and spend it exploring,” Curtes added.
This update comes at the perfect time, as the National Park Service (NPS) prepares to celebrate National Park Week from April 22 to April 30. On April 22 all entrance fees will be waived to kick off the 2023 season, just one of several free days of the year.
Where To First?
There are more than 400 national parks for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. The more popular ones you might recognize are Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park.
Some parks charge an entrance fee while others are free all of the time. This is why it’s advantageous to know the certified free dates to enter parks.
- April 22: First day of National Park Week
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 23: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
On the days listed above, anyone can visit any National Park at the low cost of zero dollars. However, take note that the fee-free days do not waive the costs of activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
And, for the days that are full price, there are discounted rates for certain groups of the population.
People With Disabilities
Any U.S. resident who “has been medically determined to have a permanent disability… that severely limits one or more major life activities,” can receive a free lifetime Access Pass, offered by the National Park Service.
U.S. Military Members + Their Dependents
Current U.S. military members and their dependents, Reserve, and National Guard members can get an annual America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Military Pass for free.
U.S. Military Veterans
All veterans need to is present one of these forms of identification to get free access to national parks for life:
- Department of Defense Identification Card (non-expired CAC Card)
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
- Veteran ID Card
- Veterans’ designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card
The national parks that charge per person can cost anywhere from $5 to $35. However, the parks that allow you to pay per vehicle are typically cheaper as a whole.
And, according to the National Park Service, 80 percent to 100 percent of the money stays in the park where it was collected.
Fourth Graders + Families
From September 1 through August 31, fourth graders in the United States get free entry into National Parks all thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program and the Every Kid Outdoors Act.
According to Every Kid in a Park, when entering a location that charges per vehicle, everyone in the car with the fourth grader will get in for free. If the park charges per person then the fourth grader and up to three accompanying adults will be admitted for free.
So, with all of these ways to make a beautiful outdoor experience so convenient, what are you waiting for?