Free weekend tours offered by National Parks

Published 12:08 am Saturday, April 18, 2015

A horse drawn carriage filled with tourists passes by the William Johnson House and Museum, one of the parts of the Natchez National Historical Park. Tours at the William Johnson are always free and self-guided. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

A horse drawn carriage filled with tourists passes by the William Johnson House and Museum, one of the parts of the Natchez National Historical Park. Tours at the William Johnson are always free and self-guided. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Natchez knows no shortage of history.

And as a way to recognize the area’s historical significance — and its many verdant assets — Natchez will celebrate National Park Week today though April 26.

As part of that celebration, tour fees for the antebellum mansion Melrose will be waived today and Sunday.

The Melrose gardens, carriage house and slave cabin will all be available for tours, free of charge.

Tours begin at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tour guides request participants arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled tour.

William Johnson House tours are always free, and self-guided, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

Vicksburg Military National Park is also celebrating with free admission to the park today and Sunday.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said this year those who tour Melrose have the opportunity to see the progress made on recreating the decorative painting that was original to portions of the mansion’s exterior.

“There is also a new interactive electronic kiosk in the visitor center with games for children and information about the park sites, Forks of the Road slave market and the Civil War in Natchez,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins encouraged the community to explore area parks throughout the week. Every dollar invested in the National Parks Service, Jenkins said, has the potential to make a big, positive impact.

“A park is more than a physical space,” she said. “It can be a feeling, a state of mind, or a program that positively affects communities. We hope everyone will be able to find their own connection with the vast network of public lands and places that protect and preserve our natural and cultural beauty. And I encourage people to get to know their national parks. They own them. They should get out there and enjoy them.”

For more information on National Park Week, visit nationalparkweek.org.

And for a complete listing of events and volunteer opportunities, visit nps.gov/natc or call 601-446-5790.