- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At $80, the one-year National Parks Pass isn’t free, but it’s a good deal.

The pass gives access to all national parks across the country — almost 400 in total — for the pass holder, a car and three passengers.

To get a glimpse of all that the park system, which was created in 1916, has to offer, take a look at Ken Burns’ new documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” which starts airing Sept. 27 on PBS (www.pbs.org/ nationalparks).

The “best idea” reference in the documentary’s title comes from writer and historian Wallace Stegner, who called the national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

The reference seems to hold true if you look at the number of visits these parks get. In 2006, for example, there were more than 272.62 million visits to the national parks, which cover about 84 million acres and feature everything from battlefields to seashores.

For more information on the parks and the pass, visit www.nps.gov.

- Gabriella Boston

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