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Originally published Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 1:34 PM

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Play for free at national parks

National park "fee-free" days are coming up for the MLK weekend and other days in 2012.

The Orange County Register

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National Parks Service sites will be open for free Jan. 14 to 16 to mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. It's just the first of several days this year when admission fees will be waived.

Fees vary at various National Park Service staffed sites. For example, the fee for entering Yosemite National Park is usually $20. More than 397 sites are always free, according to the Park Service

Other free dates this year will include:

• April 21-29 for National Park Week

• June 9 for Get Outdoors Day

• Sept. 29 for National Public Lands Day

• Nov. 10-12 for Veteran's Day.

In addition to giving visitors a chance to see the parks for free during tough economic times, the move will hopefully spur tourism in surrounding communities.

For more information, go to the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov.

The National Park Service is also working with the National Park Hospitality Association, a group of over 100 concessionaires and other businesses, to offer special discounts to those visiting parks this year. For a full list of deals, go to www.parkpartners.org. As of Jan. 11, the website had not been updated to include 2012 deals, so check back regularly.

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