A few times a year, the U.S. Department of the Interior makes it free for everyone to enter at all of the National Parks.
Check your schedule to see when you might visit one of the 400+ National Parks during one of the half-dozen free admission days.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mark your calendars for the various free admission days.
While not all National Parks charge admission, more than 100 parks do have entrance fees, typically between $5 and $35 per vehicle. In 2021, these are the days the National parks Service isn’t charging any entrance fees:
- Jan. 18: MLK Jr. birthday
- April 17: First day of National Park Week
- Aug. 4: Great American Outdoors Day
- Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday
- Sept. 25: National Public Lands Day
- Nov. 11: Veterans Day
Before you head out, make sure your favorite park is open.
The free admission only applies to the parks that are open. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has closed a number of high-traffic parks (or attractions within parks) to reduce social contact.
The National Parks Service’s closure list is changing all the time, so check it before you plan your trip.
Get to know all the other park discounts and freebies.
Fourth graders get free admission during the summer (and their families, too). Active-duty, retired and reserve military are always free at the parks. Learn about these and more National Parks discount tips.
For last-minute trips, you’ll want to camp inside the park.
Most parks that allow camping have both reservable and first-come, first-served sites. Nightly fees range from $15-$50 depending on your site and whether you need an RV hookup.
If you’re so last minute that you can’t get a reservable spot, there are always a limited amount of first-come, first-served spots. Check the individual parks’ websites to make sure campsites are still open.