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Bill Radke: Individual Americans are running deficits, too, and the National Park Service is here to help. Starting this weekend, the parks are saying, "Keep your money -- just come outside and play!" Here's Marketplace's Caitlan Carroll.
Caitlan Carroll: Hikers can pack extra trail mix and leave their wallets at home this weekend. Admission to all the national parks will be free. The park service is dropping admission fees on three weekends this summer: this weekend, one in July and in August.
Last year, the national parks received more than 200 million visits, bringing in billions of dollars to local economies. This year may be leaner as families cut back on travel budgets.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants the promotion to remind families that national parks are an inexpensive way to have fun. The plan will cost parks and monuments about a half million dollars a day in lost revenue, but the park service hopes visitors might spend some of the money they save at the gift shop.
New Mount Rushmore snow globe anyone?
I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.