How to Explore Our Nation’s National Parks for Free

The U.S. National Parks suspend entrance fees on five days each year. Find out when you can visit these magnificent sites for free.

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Unsure of what to do or where to go on your next vacation? You should consider visiting one of the 423 sites within in the National Park System. And, according to USA Today, if you plan your trip right, you can visit for free. The National Park Service is offering five free entrance days this year – and the first one is coming up next week.

All National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone on:

  • January 17: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Designated a national day of service, hundreds of volunteers participate in service projects at parks across the country on this day.
  • April 16: First day of National Park Week To kick off National Park Week, entrance fees are waived to encourage Americans to celebrate our national treasures.
  • August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act In recognition of this landmark conservation legislation which established the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund, Americans are encouraged to visit our national parks.
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day Traditionally the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort, National Public Lands Day celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits. 
  • November 11: Veterans Day This day is included because many national parks have direct connections to the American military. The National Park System includes dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans.

While the National Park Service will not charge an entrance fee on these days, some parks that operate in partnership with other parties may charge certain fees. For example, Mount Rushmore, which is operated with Xanterra Travel Collection, charges a parking fee. To avoid any unexpected charges, you should check the fee schedule for any park you plan to visit.

Do you have a favorite National Park? Message The Seniors Trust on Facebook or Twitter and tell us which parks and sites you recommend. If you know of any other places offering free admission this year, please share that information as well.