There are many different ways to exercise, including outside of a gym or workout group. One great way to add fitness into your day that you might not have the opportunity to do often is in the great outdoors. Particularly if you live in a city or busy suburb, your outdoor fitness might be limited to walks around your neighborhood or your local park, but there’s a great big world out there that’s waiting to be explored. On August 25th, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to do so with free park entry at all of the national parks around the country in celebration of the National Park Service birthday!

National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) was created on August 25th, 1916, with legislation signed by Woodrow Wilson. Today there are 62 protected lands that the NPS operate and maintain across the United States. The NPS includes rangers and other park staff who maintain trails and campsites, guide visitors in tours, and preserve the beautiful protected land of each national park. 

What to Do in the Great Outdoors 

Whether you take advantage of free entry on August 25th or you visit a national park another time, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty while getting in some exercise. 


Hiking is a popular way to exercise at a national park. The National Park Service maintains many trails and walking paths throughout each national park and offers park visitors maps of the area so you can plan your hike. 

Hiking is an activity that many people across a wide variety of fitness levels can do. Plan your hike with distance and elevation gain in mind. Most national parks have a wide variety of trails with differing lengths and difficulties. If you’re not sure what hikes might be appropriate for you and your family, ask a park ranger! The rangers and NPS staff are the ultimate guide to the park you’re visiting and can offer advice and suggestions on where to visit and what to do within the park. 

Water Activities

Many national parks have large bodies of water within the park borders and offer water activities as part of their recreation. Depending on the park that you visit, this may include kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, boating, fishing, and swimming. 


Mountain biking or flat-trail biking is a popular activity in many national parks. Check online for information about the park you’re looking to visit or talk to a ranger in the park to get an idea of what trails are open to cyclists. 

What Not to Do in the Great Outdoors

Remember, national parks are protected and preserved for both the people who visit the parks and the wildlife that live there. When you visit a national park (or even a local park) make sure:

  • not to leave any trash or food behind, 
  • not to wander off of the designated trails
  • not to feed or interact with wild animals

Find a National Park in Your Area

You can search for the perfect national park you’d like to visit on the Find Your Park website. You can filter by the activities you’re looking for or by location. You can also take a quiz to see what parks are recommended based on your interests, time of year, and preferred activities. 

Fitness isn’t only limited to time spent in the gym. By getting out into the great outdoors, you can enjoy exercise that may be outside of your typical fitness routine. For more fitness tips and workouts, check out other posts on our blog!