America’s First Family Heads to Two National Parks This Weekend

America’s First Family is headed to two national parks this weekend. And while they will bring along a small army of security and communications staffers, they will enjoy experiences remarkably similar to those enjoyed by millions of other American families who will visit one of the nearly 400 national park units this year.

The Obama family plans to visit both Yellowstone National Park – the nation’s first park – and Grand Canyon National Park to do some hiking, biking and gazing at natural vistas and wildlife. Their visit will coincide with the third and final weekend of the summer when fees will be waived by the National Park Service, thanks to action earlier this summer by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who is expected to accompany the First Family. However, it seems likely that the President planned to visit parks this summer regardless of the fee waiver. In remarks this spring at the U.S. Department of the Interior, the President recalled his family travels to parks across the nation at age 11 and told the audience that he wanted his daughters – and every American son and daughter – to have the experience of seeing our parks.

“This year, Americans are rediscovering the wonder of our parks. Attendance is up at national parks – and also at many state and local parks. Time spent with family and friends in the Great Outdoors produces healthy bodies and healthy relationships,” according to Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition. He added, “Our parks and other public lands cover a third of the nation and are one of the nation’s greatest bargains – either free or accessed with a single, $80 per year America the Beautiful Pass!”

Visitors to parks and public lands can stay in campgrounds, backcountry campsites or full-featured lodges and cabins. Hundreds of thousands of miles of trails are available for hiking, riding horses and bikes and for motorized adventures. In addition to traditional activities like fishing, canoeing and wildlife viewing, new technologies have created adventures like geocaching and sharing discoveries real-time via wireless networks.

"We thank the President and his family for showcasing the Great Outdoors," said Sam Solomon, President of The Coleman Company, Inc., one of the foremost companies in the outdoor equipment field. "It's great to see his family, and thousands of other families across the nation, enjoying nature, each other, and the spectacular experiences our national parks offer."

For information on the fee-free weekends initiative of the National Park Service, see: In addition, many of the concessioners providing lodging, food and other services in our parks are offering special opportunities and discounts – for information, see:

For overall information on outdoor recreation on all federally-managed lands, go to: