article-imageThe Wave at the Vermilion Cliffs (via Bureau of Land Management)

Around 600 million acres of the United States are public land, from state and national parks to monuments, but all that beautiful nature and history needs some maintenance to keep it in flourishing shape. This Saturday, September 28, is National Public Lands Day, where an estimated 170,000 volunteers will visit around 2,100 sites across the country, and you can join. As an added bonus, for that day all national parks will have entrance fees waived.

The first National Public Lands Day was held in 1993, and now it’s one of the largest, single day volunteer events around, with volunteers helping clean trails, plant trees, and remove trash and invasive species. As part of their 20th anniversary, NPLD has highlighted some of the unique features on their lands that cover 600 million acres of the country, including the largest known tree and the oldest public park. Below are four of our own selections for the more curious and strangely beautiful Public Lands locations that will be part of this Saturday’s event. 


(photograph by James Gordon)

The Vermilion Cliffs get their Mars-red color from red oxide and other minerals in deposited silt, with the Wave of sandstone at the Arizona-Utah border being the most otherworldly of the Bureau of Land Management-administered landscapes. This Saturday will be the annual public release of captive raised California condors, which should be a spectacular sight to say the least. 

(photograph by thaths/Flickr user)

article-image(via Bureau of Land Management)


article-image(photograph by Tony Kent)

The more than 2,000 soaring sandstone structures in Arches National Park were formed around 300 million years ago, and signs of human occupation through petroglyphs date back 10,000 years. Yet more recent visitors have tagged their own traces on the stones, and during National Public Lands Day volunteers will work to clean the graffiti at five different locations. 

Cleaning graffiti (via Arches National Park)

(photograph by fermicat/Flickr user)

article-image(photograph by Jim Trodel)


article-image(photograph by Rick Chung)

Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill of 1967, the public owns the land along the Oregon Coast. As one of the more ambitious National Public Lands Day events, thousands of volunteers will comb the state’s entire shore for trash, and sift through the tides for plastic. 

(photograph by Matt Northam)

(photograph by 
Anne Hornyak)

article-image(photograph by Joanna Bourne)


article-image(photograph by Justin Kern)

Sure, not exactly off the beaten National Parks path, but the Grand Canyon at night is a whole other experience. And for National Public Lands Day, volunteers will be taking an inventory of exterior lights to determine light pollution, to be sure the night scenery is preserved. 

(photograph by Andrew Langdal)

(photograph by Dave Wilson)

article-image(photograph by Cedward Brice)

National Public Lands Day is this Saturday, September 28. Click here to find an event near you.