The National Park Service has five entrance fee-free days this year and the next one is Thursday, Aug. 4, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
The free admission days are designed to encourage discovery and visitation of the country’s variety of national parks. With at least one in every state, national parks are accessible places to visit to refresh body, mind and spirit.
“Whether on an entrance fee-free day or throughout the year, we encourage everyone to discover their national parks and the benefits that come from spending time outdoors,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.
Recreational experiences can range from a relaxing picnic to a thrilling white-water adventure and everything in between, including walking, camping, fishing, stargazing, swimming and paddling. Programs at cultural sites and historical sites are also available at the National Parks. There are also many opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitats and see geological wonders.
To help plan your visits, stop at NPS.gov or the NPS app. Online you can find tips to help you Plan Like a Park Ranger and Recreate Responsibly. It is important to know before you go what is open and available, especially if you are interested in staying overnight. There are maps, updated conditions and suggested activities to help you decide where to go and what to do. Regardless of activity, visitors should follow Leave No Trace principles.
The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days applies only to National Park Service entrance fees and does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.
Most national parks do not have entrance fees at all.
Out of more than 400 national parks, approximately 110 have admission fees that range from $5 to $35. Money provided by entrance fees remain in the National Park Service and 80-100% stays in the park where collected.
The funds are used to directly support the visitor experience by providing programs and services, habitat restoration and building maintenance and repair.
In 2020, $170 million was collected in entrance fees. n 2020, 237 million people visited national parks and spent $14.5 billion in local communities. This supported 234,000 jobs across the country and had a $28.6 billion impact on the U.S. economy.
Free annual passes to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks, are available for members of the U.S. Military and their dependents, U.S. Military veterans, Gold Star Families, fourth grade students, and eligible NPS volunteers. U.S. Citizens with a permanent disability can obtain a free lifetime pass. U.S. Citizens 62 years and older can purchase an $80 lifetime pass or a $20 annual pass. And the annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is a great option for those who visit multiple parks each year. Those traveling with passholders can usually also enter parks for free.
The free entrance dates for 2022 are:
Monday, Jan. 17 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 16 – First Day of National Park Week
Thursday, Aug. 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
Saturday, Sept. 24 – National Public Lands Day
Friday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day