Black Friday is slowly turning... green? In recent years, some retailers and consumers have teamed up to discourage the consumerist "holiday" that follows Thanksgiving. Hoping to give retail employees the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving with their loved ones, stores like Staples, Lowe's, and Nordstrom will be closed on the holiday. Others are taking the commitment a step further and closing on Black Friday itself. For the second year in a row, outdoor retailer REI will not only be giving its employees the day after Thanksgiving off, but it will be paid. The retailer, as part of its award-winning #OptOutside campaign, is also encouraging parks to join the fight, and many have taken up the challenge.
Coming off the popularity of the National Parks centennial celebration this summer, several state parks are building on that momentum by offering free admission and parking passes on Black Friday. And while going to the park for free is a great way to save money and walk off your Thanksgiving food coma in a beautiful place, it's also a way to show support for the preservation of natural public land.
Here are some of the states that are hoping to get you outside this Friday.
Arizona is offering free day passes to attend its state parks on Nov. 25. The passes, though, are limited and available at the state's four REI stores and at Arizona State Parks' Outdoor Recreation Information Center while supplies last.
On the bright side, all passes are good through the end of the year. Find an Arizona State Park here.
In the Golden State, nonprofits Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks Foundation have partnered with California State Parks to offer free day-use parking and admission passes to 116 parks on Black Friday. News of this deal has spread fast, however, and while over half of the participating parks have already sold out of their free passes, there are still many available to grab now, including those to Humbodlt Redwoods State Park, Refugio State Beach, and South Yuba River State Park, amongst many others. Claim your passes here before they run out.
All 42 of Colorado's state parks are admission fee-free to residents and visitors this Black Friday, thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the sponsorship of nonprofit organization Great Outdoors Colorado. No need to register for a pass. Just pack up your Thanksgiving Day leftovers and head out for a #FreshAirFriday hike and outdoor lunch. Find your nearest Colorado State Park here.
All 16 Delaware state parks will open starting at 8 a.m., and will waive their usual $4-$10 entry fees. And if you find you like the parks enough, annual passes will also go on sale on Friday. Find Delaware state park locations here.
Indiana is home to 25 state parks, and all of them will offer free entry on Nov. 25. And besides the usual hiking, fishing, and camping fun to be had, there will be a guided nature hike exploring Potawatomi heritage at Pokagon State Park and a nature film screening at McCormick's Creek State Park. Learn more about Indiana state parks here.
Explore the inland and coastal regions of the Great Lakes State on Black Friday, as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources waives entry fees to all 103 of its state parks and all 138 of its state forest campgrounds. This will be Michigan's first year participating in the movement to turn Black Friday green, so hopes are high that it will be successful enough to continue annually. Find a Michigan state park, trail, forest, or recreation area here.
Oregon is home to 197 state parks, and while many are always free, on Black Friday, all parks in the state will waive day-use parking fees for the day. And as Jamie Hale from The Oregonian points out, that will mean increased access to some of the state's most popular natural destinations. Find a map of Oregon state parks here.
Check out your state parks office's website to see if your state is offering free admission and/or parking passes on Black Friday. Even if state parks aren't free where you live, it's worth it to still try take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors after Black Friday (if you're not working, that is). With the world's environmental future in constant danger, it's best to take any chance you have to enjoy the great outdoors while you still can and show your support for the preservation of publicly-accessible land.