Visit Yosemite and other national parks for free Saturday

Yosemite Facelift 2019 seeks volunteers to help clean up the park after the popular summer season.
(Los Angeles Times)

National parks, forests and other federal lands as well as some regional and state parks will waive fees on National Public Lands Day, held each year on the fourth Saturday in September.

America’s largest single-day volunteer effort to spruce up public lands brings out hundreds of thousands of people from coast to coast who work on trail maintenance, tree plantings, invasive plant removal and other much-needed projects.

Free entry to national parks, forests, waterways and other public spaces means saving $25 to $30 in entrance fees at popular national parks such as Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of volunteer projects at parks and wild areas at the National Environmental Education Foundation’s website. If you sign up, remember to come prepared to work. Wear loose fitting, layered clothing; and sturdy shoes or boots. Don’t forget to bring snacks and water (though some places provide them). Here are places in California where you can visit and volunteer.


Northern California

Yosemite National Park: Yosemite’s climbing community and the national park are hosting The Yosemite Facelift 2019, which is all about cleaning up litter that has accumulated over the busy summer months. Volunteers are needed to pick up litter along roadways, river corridors, on trails, near climbing routes, and in parking, camping and lodging areas. The results are impressive: last year volunteers removed 14,126 pounds of trash and debris. The Facelift is on now through Sunday; volunteers must register in advance at the Yosemite Visitor Center between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. now through Saturday and 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. A second check-in station is located on the park’s east side at the Tuolumne Meadows Store between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Info: The Yosemite Facelift 2019

Joshua Tree National Park: Volunteers are needed to help remove graffiti, plant native habitat and perform trail work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Sign up in advance to lend a hand.

Info: Branch Out Joshua Tree

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: Cleanup in the national park includes picking up litter, cleaning fire rings and preparing the park for winter snow, with tasks such as flipping over picnic tables. You can help out Saturday between 12:30 and 5 p.m.

Info: Sequoia & Kings Canyon Campground Cleanup

Southern California

Angeles National Forest, Arcadia: REI, the national forest and other organizations are hosting a cleanup between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at Chantry Flat, a popular picnic and hiking spot in Arcadia. Tasks include trail maintenance, debris cleanup and picnic area improvements.

Info: National Public Lands Project at Chantry Flat

Griffith Park, Los Angeles: The Friends of Griffith Park invite volunteers to help mulch and prepare a section of the park for tree planting. The Bird Sanctuary, up the road from the Greek Theatre, was damaged and temporarily closed after the 2007 fire. Now it needs volunteers to help restore the area between 9 and 11 a.m. Saturday.

Info: Friends of Griffith Park

Los Angeles State Historic Park, Los Angeles: L.A.'s biggest downtown park (32 acres) is planning a half day of educational events and work projects. The day starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with a light breakfast and art exhibit at Gateway to Nature (130 Paseo de la Plaza), followed by an urban forestry talk and on to the work project at the park (1245 N. Spring St.). Sign up in advance to volunteer.

Info: National Public Lands Day at DTLA’s Largest Park