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National parks and forests are free on MLK Day -- and snowy too

Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley and all national parks and forests are free on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The slain civil-rights leader would have turned 87 years old on Jan. 15.

Fees are waived at national parks and forests that charge entrance fees on Monday only. (Visitors must pay if they enter on Saturday or Sunday.)

So what's there to do once you get there? There's lots of snow play for those heading north, near and far.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon (usually $30 to enter) and Yosemite (usually $25) stand to receive 2 to 5 inches of new snow as of Friday morning and more on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The parks already had snow on the ground, so this is good news for those who want to snowshoe or back-country ski. Higher elevations, of course, will be snowier too.

Yosemite reports that the influx of water has stoked its waterfalls. You'll have a chance to snap photos of them running and flanked by snow on the rock faces.

However snow also may make for tough travel conditions. Tire chains or cables may be required in some areas and as the weather changes, and you better know how to use them too.

Info: Yosemite Current Conditions, Road Conditions in Sequoia & Kings Canyon or call (559) 565-3341 and press 1 and 1 again.

Death Valley (usually $20 to enter) sounds like an unlikely place to find snow, but it's there at the high elevations. It fell earlier this month when storms swept through. The park may get more rain on Monday.

Bring layers of clothes as it will be warmest during the daytime (high 40s and up to 51) but in the 30s at night.

And in case you were planning to stop: the quirky Scotty's Castle is closed indefinitely. Parts of the building and the road leading up to it were damaged during heavy rainfall in October.

Info: Death Valley National Park


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