Stephanie Nelson | 

How the 4th Grade National Park Pass Can Get You Into National Parks Free

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The Every Kid Outdoors program — commonly known as the free 4th Grader National Park pass — was launched in 2015 as a way to encourage kids to get off screens and outside. It used to be branded as the “Every Kid in a Park” program, but in 2019, the name changed to Every Kid Outdoors to be more inclusive of all the amazing national sites that the pass gets your fourth grader access to.

If you have a 4th grader who enjoys the outdoors, the summertime is the perfect season to apply for the 4th grade national park pass and find out how to get free admission to the national parks. With travel still being limited post-pandemic, national parks offer an easy vacation destination by car, depending on where you live. Plus, the whole pass is 100% completely free. Count it as a summer field trip that’s way cheaper than going to the aquarium or the arcade.

Here’s everything you need to know in order to turn your 4th grader into your family’s literal ticket to free outdoor adventures.

What is the 4th Grader National Park Pass?

This is a savings of up to $35 (per vehicle fee). (Unfortunately, the pass doesn’t cover any camping fees.)

How do I know if my child qualifies for the 4th Grader National Park Pass?

A woman and her son in a national park.

Are they in or going into fourth grade? If so, you’re in. Your child can get the Every Kid Outdoors pass for one full year. So sign them up on Sept. 1 of their 4th grade year, and it’s good until Aug. 31 the following year.

To make the most out of the pass, consider planning a family road trip vacation during the summer you have the Every Kid Outdoors pass. A lot of parks and lands like Yellowstone, Glacier, and more can be ticked off a list if you map it out.

Learn more National Parks discount savings tips and tricks.

How do I get an Every Kid Outdoors pass?

A child on a computer looking at an Every Kid Outdoors national park pass.

Go to Every Kid Outdoors and tap “Get Your Pass.” Your 4th grader will be prompted to fill out a “diary entry” with the things they want to see and do. This consists of answering a couple questions in a multiple-choice format.

When they’re done, you’ll see a field to type in your zip code. Then after that, you can print the pass.

How do I use the 4th Grader National Park Pass?

A jeep entering through a gate at the front of a national park.

Easy. Just show the paper you printed out to the ranger when you arrive at a park or land you want to explore, and they’ll give you an actual pass. Then they’ll let you go on through without paying. (That’s the best part, right?)

You must have the physical pass with you in order to get free access to national parks. The rangers don’t have any way to look up your pass if you forgot it. If you lose a pass, just return to the Every Kid Outdoors website and get a new one by signing up again and printing the paper.

Your 4th grader must be present to enter a park with the pass. Leave it on your car’s dashboard when you get out to hike or see sights.

Here are even more free things to do with kids during summer.

I’m a 4th grade teacher; can I get passes for my students?


Absolutely. 4th grade teachers can get Every Kid Outdoors passes for all qualifying 4th graders. As long as you’re a U.S. or military teacher or an adult who instructs 4th graders in any sort of organization that serves youth. For example, homeschool teachers, after-school program leaders, or religious group leaders can obtain passes for their 4th grade students.

Unfortunately, the pass isn’t available for teachers or any other adults. Only 4th graders can get the free pass.

Is the Every Kid Outdoors pass good at other national sites?

Two boys swimming in crystal blue water

Yes! Your Every Kid Outdoors pass will also get your family free access to sites managed by these national agencies:

TIP: This also means your 4th grader can get a free Christmas tree permit and access to federal lands to cut a tree down.

Where do I get started planning my family’s Every Kid Outdoors adventure?

Chances are good you’ve got a bucket list of National Parks you want to take the family to, but if you’re looking for something closer or a day trip, check out this list of federal recreation sites. It’s organized by state and has many lesser-known places that issue and honor the Every Kid Outdoors pass.

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