Exploring ‘America’s best-idea’ just got better with free U.S. national park passes for kids.

The National Park system as transit map. (Sierra Club)

Imposing a structure onto America’s most stunning wilderness feels a bit like trying to get a toddler to adhere to a strict snack schedule, but if anything, it’s almost as if the US national parks willed themselves into being. Their campaign of manifesting their destiny began in the mid-1880s when European heading westward across the continent stumbled upon the area that today is Yosemite National Park. Explorers like John Muir were so entranced by the valley that they sent messages back east imploring Congress and President Lincoln to place the land under government protection, which they did during the Civil War. Yellowstone became the first official national park in 1872 (under President Grant) and in 1915 the National Park Service was created. Today the NPS oversees some 392 national parks, monuments, battlefields, seashores, recreation areas, and other protected sites that can be found as far north as the arctic circle (Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Kobuk Valley National Park) to south of the equator (National Park of American Samoa). And now thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program all 4th graders can enter each and every one for free.

Every Kid in a Park is run through the National Park Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids as part of their wide format of programs that range from providing underserved schools transportation to parks for field trips to training teachers how to teach about nature to sponsoring kids to attend day camp.

Parents and can access the passes by visiting the Every Kid in a Park site starting September 1, 2015. But why (only) 4th graders you may ask? As Susan Newton, senior vice president of grants and programs at the National Park Foundation explains, “We are starting with an invitation to the targeted segment of America’s 4th graders because we know that children who interact with nature and natural areas before age 11 are more likely to have positive attitudes toward nature and the environment as adults. Fourth grade is also when many schools are teaching local, state, and national history.”

Here’s just a few of the lands and landmarks your 4th grader can visit for free:

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