We have one last weekend before school starts, and – hooray – the national parks are offering free admission. That’s right, there will be no entrance fee at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area or Lassen Volcanic National Park this Saturday and Sunday, August 14 and 15.
Some national parks (Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, etc.) are so crowded during the summer that I might warn you away from fee-free days. But Whiskeytown and Lassen have only a few small areas that draw significant crowds, and at both parks it’s easy to find your own private swimming hole or hike for hours without seeing more than a couple other people.
Whiskeytown will offer all of its usual ranger-guided activities this weekend, including the ever-popular kayak tours. These activities are always free. The Western National Parks Association is cutting the price of bookstore items at the Whiskeytown Visitor Center by 15% this weekend.
The folks at Lassen are emphasizing hiking opportunities on the park’s 150 miles of trails this weekend. Because of the cold, snowy spring in the high country, hiking season was late arriving at Lassen this year. But the weather conditions also mean there are still wildflowers aplenty along many trails, and creeks continue to run full. A few trails even have patches of snow.
Other fee-free days at national parks are scheduled for September 26 to mark National Public Lands Day, and November 11 in honor of Veterans Day.
• Not free, but half price isn’t bad … Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding is offering half price admission through this Friday, August 13. Today, Turtle Bay also is offering 50-cent hot dogs. Thursday is science day, and Friday will see 50-cent Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
• Back to free … Mosquito Serenade at Anderson River Park wraps up for the season at 7 p.m. tonight, August 11, with multi-cultural dance and show band Liquid Blue. No tickets are required but you might want to arrive early for what should be a very popular show.
• More inexpensive entertainment … The final performance of the season for the Shasta Vocal Institute is scheduled for 7 p.m. this Thursday, August 12, at Shasta College Theatre. Forty students in the three-week institute will sing scenes from three operas and Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella.” Young professional singers from the area will perform Mark Adamo’s “Little Women.” Tickets are only $7, or $5 for students and seniors.
• Speaking of Shasta College … Community education classes continue at the college’s teaching garden. This Saturday and next, a three-hour class called “Canning from the Garden” is available for $30. I probably should attend to learn what to do with the green beans that are threatening to drown me. On August 28, a class on edible native plants is scheduled. For details and to register for class, check the Community Teaching Garden page in Shasta College’s Pathways catalogue.
• Leadership Redding has added nine new members to its steering committee: Richard Myers of Foothill High School, Suzanne Akana of Viva Downtown Redding, Jason Dell of Shasta College, Jaclyn Kong of the City of Redding, Bernice Corey of McHale Sign Company, Katrina Delevanti of Shasta Community Health Center, Nannette Thomas of Sierra Receivables Management, Ronda Ball of Enjoy Magazine and Monique Gaido of Garden Tract Association. Bill Jostock of the Shasta County Assessor’s Office is the steering committee chair for the 2010-11 term, which kicks off next month. To learn more about the Leadership Redding program, check the website at www.leadershipredding.com.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and thinks of himself as thrifty. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at email@example.com.