Here’s how you can visit national parks for free in 2023

The only thing better than visiting the hundreds of beautiful national parks across the U.S. is visiting them for free. Luckily, the National Park Service has designated six fee-free days in 2024 for all U.S. national parks from coast to coast. On these days, visitors can enter the parks without paying the usual entrance fee, which can range from about $3 per person to $35 per vehicle. This provides a great opportunity to save on a visit to one of the country’s most picturesque places when money is tight.

Out of the 425 national park sites, more than 300 are already free to visit. However, 109 currently charge an entrance fee. While national parks are generally affordable, the fees can add up, especially when staying overnight or visiting multiple parks during a single trip. The National Park Service offers these free days to encourage more people to get outside and enjoy the country’s most stunning landscapes.

To make the most of these fee-free days, visitors can visit (or for ideas on nearby parks to visit. It’s also a good idea to call the national park’s visitor center before arriving to find out if there are any special activities planned for the fee-free days, the best areas to avoid crowds, and any tips on parking or public transit options for getting to the park.

The six days when admission is free to all national park visitors in 2024 are:

1. Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
2. April 20 – First Day of National Park Week
3. June 19 – Juneteenth
4. Aug. 4 – Great American Outdoors Day
5. Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
6. Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

In addition to these fee-free days, certain visitors may be eligible for free annual or lifetime passes that cover entrance fees and standard day-use fees at U.S. national parks. These include:

1. Military Annual Pass: Current U.S. military members and their dependents, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, can apply for a free military annual pass.
2. Military Lifetime Pass: Gold Star families and U.S. military veterans can visit national parks for free with a Military Lifetime Pass.
3. 4th Grade Pass: U.S. fourth graders can apply for a free pass valid throughout their fourth grade school year and the following summer.
4. Access Pass: U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can apply for the Access Pass, which offers free entry and a discount on some amenity fees.
5. Volunteer Pass: Volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies participating in the Interagency Pass program can apply for an annual Volunteer Pass.

With all national parks waiving entrance fees on six select days throughout 2024, it’s a good time to start planning how to take advantage of these fee-free days. It’s important to check the list of participating parks and national monuments to plan the perfect visit. Whether it’s exploring the stunning landscapes of Zion National Park in Utah or marveling at the natural wonders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the U.S. national parks.

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