It’s that time of year again! The time we tell you to mark your calendars to visit the national parks for free on certain days. There are 423 national park sites. Only 108 have a fee. The fees can cost around $30 and deter you from going. If that’s ever stopped you, the free days are your chance to see what all the fuss is about.
The first free day is right around the corner! Monday, Jan. 17, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there is no entrance fee. The next free day is Apr. 16, the first day of National Parks Week. Then the parks will be free again on Aug. 4, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act. Then National Public Lands Day on Sept. 24 will be celebrated with a free day. Finally, Veterans Day on Nov. 11 will be a free day.
The newest free day is Aug. 4. That free day was added to the calendar only two years ago to celebrate the massive conservation legislation to give $1.9 billion a year for five years to upgrade the infrastructure of the parks. The parks were in dire need of help when the legislation passed, and it’s something worth celebrating!
Entrance fees to the parks generate $170 million every year that goes to the protection and maintenance of the sites. The parks are a huge tourist draw and get massive crowds. Experts even suggest skipping the top 10 most visited parks if you want the best views. They’ll be crowded. We have said it before, and we’ll say it again, there are so many beautiful overlooked national parks. Some people say there are only 63 “proper” national parks because they have “National Park” in their name. But, there are hundreds of protected sites worth seeing!
If you want to visit the expensive parks but avoid these days that might be especially busy, an America the Beautiful Pass might be a good fit for you. It gives you unlimited access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites — including the ones with admission fees. It costs $80 a year. If you are over 62-year-old, you can get a lifetime pass for the same price or an annual pass for $20. There are also free passes for military members and their families and people with disabilities. Using an America the Beautiful pass, you can visit the parks as much as you like on quieter days.
We hope that this information inspires you to get out to the parks. There are 423 of them!