National Parks: Offbeat, unusual – and free

Some people have enough money to go everywhere they want. The rest of us enter our names in sweepstakes and contests in hopes that one day we’ll be the lucky dog whose name is picked.

In honor of National Park Service’s fee-free weekend  – today and tomorrow, August 14 -15, 2010, here’s a contest you can enter to win a trip to one of ten National Park ‘units’ around the country.

Statue of Liberty NPS

Courtesy NPS - Dennis Mulligan

The folks at Bausch+Lomb are hosting the “Inspiration in your Eyes” contest.  To win a trip to one of ten ‘inspirational’ places in the Continental United States (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, Glacier National Park, Waimea Canyon, the Columbia River Gorge, Colorado’s Garden of the Gods, or Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park) write up – in 1,500 characters or less – a story about a place you find inspirational and send along a photo.  Details on the Inspiration in your Eyes contest here. Deadline: 9/30/10.

Giant Sequoia - Sequoia National Park

Giant Sequoia at Sequoia National Park - NPS, photo by Alexandria Picavet

And for a little inspiration while you’re thinking about what to write about, take a look at my recent article for msnbc.com:  National Parks: Offbeat, unusual – and free.

The story includes notes about the country’s smallest and largest national parks: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas and /Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, in Alaska; the park that’s home to some of the largest living things: record-setting Giant Sequoia Trees in Sequoia National Park, CA; and the battiest national park: Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, which is home to up to a million Mexican free-tailed bats.