Spring is in the Air: Camping Season!

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Spring is just around the corner, the air is getting warmer, and the birds are beginning to sing once again.  That means it’s time to move the adventure outdoors. There are several free events and activities to do when the weather is nice and camping is one of those.  One may ask, “How can camping possibly be free?” That is a valid question. One of our best kept secrets is public land, lots and lots of public land which has been set aside by the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior.  They manage the public lands of the United States which total over 245 million surface acres and 700 million subsurface acres. All in all, that’s about 10% of the land in the United States. While many acres are dedicated to preserving natural wildlife, mining, logging, animal grazing and more, we are interested in the outdoor recreation these lands have to offer.

Park Locations and Amenities to Consider

The BLM operates campgrounds in western states, sorry eastern states.  They have sites in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  There are many parks and recreation areas within these states and are often free for the taking on a first come first serve basis. I would stick to areas close to home or contact the park of interest to discover if they have open spots, when’s the easiest time to find a spot, and any other pertinent information which may be needed.  One can go the BLM website and access an information page detailing some of the amenities. Not all parks are created equal, so research is a must do if one wants to be prepared for the adventure. Some parks are primitive, with no water, electricity, or bathroom facilities. Some campsites may have a potable water source at a specified location but not available at each campsite.  Others may have outhouses without running water while others may have fully loaded restrooms with showers, electricity, and outlets. These are important factors to know when preparing for a camping trip and determining how off grid one may want to be.

Activities

As diverse as the amenities are throughout the parks, so are the activities. If you have something in mind, go to the BLM website to see what each park has available.  Some of the activities include: mountain biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, snow shoeing, and more. Depending on which activities and what season you’re looking to venture out, the information page of each park will be invaluable.  There are also links to each parks social media accounts for up to the minute information along with phone numbers and directions. Which activities are available and during which season. For instance snowshoeing and dog sledding in winter and water sports in the summer, fall foliage hikes, and spring flower blooms.  

Additional Considerations

If you’re a person who doesn’t want to be so far removed from modern amenities, the BLM also offers reservations, RV sites, cabins, and additional accoutrements.  However, these are often not free of charge, so be prepared to come out of pocket for the niceties. Recreation.gov is a one stop site for recreational offerings the government has to offer and encompasses many more programs and agencies than the BLM.  They offer tours, cabins, campsites, sites not part of the BLM, and so much more. I highly recommend choosing an area for free camping and utilizing recreation.gov to supplement any additional excursions you may want to participate in the area. The two complement each other and recreation.gov also carries information on the free campsites offered by the BLM.

That’s a Wrap

There are plenty of adventures to be had with a little research and a little time spent planning.  Gone are the obstacles to free outdoor adventures and any reason to not enjoy some of the great adventures waiting to be had because you live on a dirt poor income.  There are plenty of free and exciting opportunities waiting to be had for those willing to take the time and research a little. These moments create memories which cannot be replaced and that last a lifetime.  Don’t allow a lack of money to stifle your hunger for adventure or your family’s.

“It’s never too late to have a genuine adventure” ~ Robert Kurson

References

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Art, Culture, and Science: Free Admission to the Best Museums

Often times, we see wonderful art, cultural, or science exhibits in wonderful museums in movies, television, and advertisements.  We want to know what all the talk is about and make a connection to these pieces of work. The only problem is we tend to not have enough money to pay for ourselves, let alone an entire family and the concessions which we will inevitable purchase along the way.  Taking a family can cost well over $100 dollars and often much more. The money really adds up and we often forgo the expense and the experience because we would rather spend our money on items that are necessary or less expensive.

This deprivation of the wonders a museum has to offer is no longer necessary, nor advised.  Museums all over the United States offer free admission to the public, although there are several restrictions on days and times.  These visits will need to be planned due the restrictions and a drop-in visit will most likely result in paying for admission unless you have the good fortune to arrive on a free day.    

A good place to start to look for free admission information is a simple google search.  There are often newspaper feature articles which discuss what museums, who is offered free admission, when free admission is offered, and how to visit for free.  Keep in mind that these articles can be older and I would recommend a call to the museum to confirm which days are free, what times during the day, and what exhibits are included with the free admission.  

The local visitor’s bureau is another place for information on the local tourist destinations.  They will have information on museums but additional sights which may be of interest. They are the go-to for things happening in the area and may know of additional venues which are offering free admission.  A day may consist of a day visit to the museum, then a show later in the evening, and it can all be free if it’s planned in advance. Often times residents of an area don’t visit their visitor’s bureau and may be missing out on some important opportunities to explore their city, town, or region.

Another place that offers free tickets to museums is your local library.  As stated before in Libraries: The Free Entertainment Source and More, the library is a hub of information and is part of a greater network of public attractions.  Libraries will often offer the ability to obtain free museum admission tickets for a set number of members.  They often offer museum tickets for museums outside of the local area, which is a nice perk, especially when traveling within the state or taking a special day with the family.  Some library systems allow their members to check out tickets and the whole process is digital which is quite convenient.

With all the available free admission opportunities to the museums in the area, one can’t help but go and experience the grandeur and the wonder of some of the most impressive exhibits available.

Examples from the most visited cities in the United States:

  • Atlanta Contemporary in Atlanta Ga is always free
  • Chicago History Museum in Chicago Illinois has free admission most Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • History Miami Museum in Miami Florida has free admission on the Second Saturday of the month
  • Houston Museum of African American Culture in Houston Texas has free admission on Sundays
  • Laguna Art Museum in Orange County California has free admission on the first Thursday evening of the month from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando Florida has free admission every second Sunday of the month
  • Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City is always free

References