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Most national parks can be final resting place

David Skidmore Chicago Tribune

Your favorite getaway could be your final resting place. Cremated remains can be scattered in most national parks and other sites overseen by the National Park Service.

My in-laws wanted their ashes scattered in Yosemite National Park, their favorite place for camping and backpacking. After they died, I was prepared to secretly hike in and quietly scatter the ashes. But in researching the issue, I discovered that the Park Service routinely grants permission for scattering of ashes. The same is true of the Bureau of Land Management. Every location has its own rules.

To obtain permission, mail your request to the office that manages the site. You can find it on the website of the park via or the BLM’s, along with the rules for scattering ashes.

For example, Yosemite requires that it be done out of sight of any public access, such as roads, trails, campgrounds and parking lots. The ashes must be scattered, not buried, and the scattering must be over a large enough area so that no single portion is accumulated in one place. Also, it must be at least 100 yards from any water. No markers can be left to commemorate the event, but Yosemite does have a Book of Memories, where information can be entered.

Some parks have specific sites for scattering, such as Bryce Canyon National Park, which limits scattering to Pirates Point. A number have tighter controls over what happens at the scattering (no music at Bryce Canyon; no release of birds, butterflies or other objects at Smoky Mountains National Park). Some parks allow scattering by air with minimum altitudes (2,000 feet at Sequoia and Kings Canyon, 1,000 feet at Yellowstone). In every instance you must have your permit with you when you do the scattering.

Beyond the regular fees for entering a park, there are usually no additional fees for scattering ashes of loved ones (larger gatherings may require a special-use permit). The process is simple and straightforward. Within a few weeks we had the permission to scatter my in-laws’ ashes, and there was no time restriction on when we had to do this.

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