National Get Outdoors Day, created in a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, will include a wide variety of opportunities to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun, from a rousing day of festivities in City Park in Denver to quieter observations on some national forest and grasslands.
Go Day, as it is often called, was launched June 14, 2008, through a partnership between the Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition. Built on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other efforts, Go Day connects Americans – especially children – with nature and active lifestyles.
To find Go Day activities near you, visit the National Get Outdoors Day website.
As part of Go Day, the Forest Service also offers a “fee-free” day. The first fee-free day this year was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Other fee free periods will be on Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 9-11 for Veterans Day Weekend.
The Forest Service operates and maintains more than 10,000 developed recreation sites but has 17,000 total sites overall. Those other 7,000 sites are primitive in nature offering a place to camp or picnic but without amenities such as RV hookups or toilets. Forest Service concessionaires who operate campsites, boat ramps and other such amenities have the choice on whether they will participate with fee-free day. Users also must still pay for wilderness permits.
Whether you participate in Go Day or go out on your own, there is a variety of world-class activities available on many forests. In Colorado, for example, the Rio Grande National Forest is the site of internationally recognized climbing in the Penitente Canyon Special Recreation Management Area. The area offers 300 sport-climbing routes with south-facing routes that can be climbed year-round.
More than 245 mountain biking trails can be found on the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Choose 7.2 miles of intersecting loops at the Hanging Dog Recreation Area or opt for Tasali Recreation Area’s challenging single-track trails that overlook Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains.
And don’t forget to get the kids involved by starting with DiscovertheForest.org, which among other things features The Book of Stuff to Do Outside. It’s free to download and offers ideas about how to keep a nature journal, make a water scope and go on a scavenger hunt.
Wherever you choose to go, be sure to check your local weather forecast and with your local forest and grassland for safety alerts.