UPDATE: It looks like Green Friday was a hit. At final count, 11,560 — or 89 percent — of the free passes were downloaded. And 90 of the 116 state parks were sold out.
How about turning your Black Friday green — not the color of dollar bills but the color of forests and leaves?
That's the goal of Green Friday, an event that will allow Californians to visit 116 state parks for free on the day after Thanksgiving. But you'll need to make your plans ASAP if you want to get in on the action.
Only 13,000 passes are available and you'll need to reserve yours in advance. Passes are going fast and some parks are already booked up.
Sam Hodder, CEO of Save the Redwoods League, says it's a way to start a new tradition the day after Thanksgiving.
"It's an opportunity to have friends and family rethink how to spend that day and instead of going into the malls, going out into some of California's most spectacular natural places," he tells KPCC.
Hodder helped organize the giveaway along with California State Parks and the State Parks Foundation.
In Southern California, visitors can use their pass to check out several locations including:
- Carpinteria State Beach
- El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara
- Gaviota State Park in Goleta
- Point Mugu in Ventura
- California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside
- Saddleback Butte State Park in Lancaster
To secure a pass, go to greenfriday.org and select your destination. After you fill out the required info, download and print your vehicle day pass. It's good for as many people as you can safely fit in your car (or RV or hot dog shaped bus).
More than 8,000 passes have already been downloaded. Hodder says he expects most of the passes to be snagged by the middle of this coming week.
After last year's successful Green Friday, the Redwood League more than doubled both the number of passes and the number of parks participating this year. 2016 also saw the program expand into Southern California. Last year's event focused on redwood parks in Northern California.
"There are a lot of people who don't have the chance to visit our state parks," Hodder says. "So this is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the people of California for all their support and give them the chance to see some parks maybe they haven't visited before."