Free National Parks Passes for 4th Graders

Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Denali and Big Bend are some of the biggest ones.  Hot Springs,  Indiana Dunes, and Acadia  are some of the smaller ones.  Dry Tortuga is an island version, and Gateway Arch is in the middle of a bustling city.     Our national parks are nothing short of a national treasure.  With over 84 million visitors in 2017, they offer us a chance to camp, hike, bike, and climb.  We love our national parks, and we think  a national parks pass make an excellent gift. But did you know every fourth grader can get a free national parks pass?

The Every Kid In A Park program is simple.  Every single 4th grader ( or their parent or teacher) can go online and print out a parks pass online, and then take it  any national park for free entry.


Of course the NPS doesn’t want 9 year old roaming the national park all alone, so the pass allows entry for the 4th grader, along with all other children in the family, plus up to 3 adults.    Do you have multiple children?   You can take advantage of the program for each child, and enjoy multiple years  of family trips to the parks.    You aren’t the child’s primary guardian or caretaker?    No problem.  Any guardian or educator can print off the passes for the kids.    There are a few caveats, but they aren’t overly restrictive.

The program runs from Sept 1, through August 31 of each year. So if your little one just finished 4th grade, get a pass now, and use it all summer.  The other thing is that you must  go online and print out a paper copy of the certificate.   They won’t take an electronic copy.   It might be a good idea to make multiple copies in case you lose on on your trip.

The Every Kid In A Park program encourages kids to enjoy the national parks and the outdoors in general.  Hopefully fostering a lifelong passion for camping and exploring.

Ready to get a free parks pass for your little one:   Just head over to the Every Kid In A Park website.  It takes less than two minutes.


Have you been camping in a national park with your kids? We would love to hear from you. Email us: or contact us on Facebook or Instagram.



Travel Trailer Towing: GVWR, GCWR what does it all mean?

Choosing the right tow vehicle and travel trailer can be a big decision, based on many factors: How much space do you need? Should you choose your tow vehicle first or your travel trailer first? What is your budget? For safety reasons, you should always consider the payload capacity, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and the Gross Combined WeightRating (GCWR or GVCWR). Exceeding any of these can cause damage to your trailer or tow rig, can be dangerous, and may create extra liability. So what do all these numbers mean?

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GVWR is the total weight of your vehicle, along with everything in or on the vehicle, as well as the tongue weight of your trailer. This includes passengers, fuel, luggage, and everything else. The brakes, suspension, tires, frame, and other components of your vehicle are not engineered to exceed this number.  You can usually find this number on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.

For example: A 2 wheel drive 2011 Ford Explorer with a 3.5 L V6 has a GVWR of 6160lbs. This means the vehicle and everything in and on it needs to be under that weight. The curb weight of the SUV is 4443 lbs. The curb weight is the vehicle with absolutely nothing in it other than the fluids in the engine, and a full tank of gas. So that leaves you with 1717 lbs for everything else. If you set off with your camping trip with 4 adults, averaging 175 lbs a piece, that adds up to 700lbs. If each adult packs 50 lbs of gear, that adds another 200 lbs. For the total of 900 lbs of payload. You should probably account for another 50lbs of accessories and “random stuff” that winds up in your car, but you are still at 950 lbs and well under the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for your SUV. No troubles here.


The towing capacity for the standard front wheel drive explorer advertised as 2000lbs But when you have an Explorer loaded up with cargo and people as well as a trailer, you need to be careful that you don’t exceed the GCWR of 6880 lbs.   If you don’t have the original documentation that came with your vehicle, you may need to contact the manufacturer.  If you have the VIN, they should be able to give you the GCWR for your vehicle.

The curb weight of the SUV is 4443lbs, and your cargo weighs 950lbs for a total of 5393lbs. This means that if you tow a 200lb trailer, you’ll be overweight by 513 lbs. Since the GVWR is only 6880, you need to lose $500 lbs somewhere. You need either a lighter trailer, or you need to lose some of your passengers!


The towing capacity of a vehicle can be confusing. The manufacturer of advertises the best case scenario of a nearly empty vehicle towing a trailer. It’s always a good idea to check the Combined Vehicle Weight Rating to make sure your vehicle can safely tow your trailer and your cargo. Most trucks and SUVs should have small sticker inside the driver’s side door panel that shows the GVWR, and GCWR. The best way to truly make sure you aren’t overloaded is to load up your rig and head to a weigh station. Weigh your whole setup fully loaded, and make sure you aren’t overweight.


If you already have a tow vehicle and are shopping for a trailer, load up the vehicle with everything except the trailer and get it weighed first.  Subtract that total weight from the GCWR posted on the vehicle, and be sure that your loaded travel trailer is under that weight.

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The light weight and towability of many teardrop trailers is on of the many reasons  campers choose teardrop trailers like the T@B and T@G trailers or even the Safari Alto  and R-Pod trailers. Some of these trailers come in at under 2000lbs, and still provide many creature comforts.    If you buy one of these little travel trailers. Be sure to visit us for your trailer covers, awnings, side tents, and more.