Saturday is National Public Lands Day, one of a handful of fee-free days for the U-S Forest Service and the National Park Service.
All fees are waived, including picnic areas, boat launches, trailheads, and visitors centers, but fees still apply for camping, cabin rentals, and other permits.
In this area, there are no entry fees at Agate Fossil Beds and Scotts Bluff National Monument, the latter having dropped its fee for the Summit Road a few years ago, but Wind Cave National Park is offering free cave tours.
It’s too late to make a reservation for a tour – those must be submitted at least 3 days in advance – so park officials recommend getting in early since tour tickets – while free – are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wind Cave Superintendent Leigh Welling hopes those coming for the free tours also take full advantage of enjoying the surface at the park as well such as wildlife that includes deer, elk, bison, prairie dogs, and if you’re lucky, black-footed ferrets.
Welling says “spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing because visiting natural areas lowers cortisol and blood pressure and is linked with lowering levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.”