Throughout the United States of America there is a large amount of National Parks. These parks are operated by the National Park Service and can only be established by an act of the US Congress.
Yellowstone was the first natural area to be designated a National park in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant; since then a plethora of other regions have joined the list, and the USA currently boasts 59 National Parks. To qualify as a National Park, the natural area must meet certain criteria such as providing an outstanding region of natural beauty, an unusual ecosystem or a plethora of recreational activities for example.
Every year, the National Park Service designates a number of free entrance days, when visitors can access the parks without paying an entrance fee (which normally ranges from $5 to $35 per vehicle).
The free park days apply to all 111 fee-charging National Parks in the United States including Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Crater Lake, and The Grand Canyon.
This year, there will be 5 days when you can visit any of the country’s stunning national parks for free.
2020 National Park Free Entrance Days:
- January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 18: First day of National Park Week (a weeklong event held at parks across the country)
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 26: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Park entrance fees have increased over the last several years, with popular parks like Yosemite National Park and Zion National Park now charging $35 per vehicle. Although this may seem a little steep, only 111 out of 419 national parks charge entrance fees — making the remaining 308 free to visit any time of year. Wondering what the parks actually do with the money they collect from these entrance fees? 80% of the money stays in the park where you paid the fee to “enhance the visitor experience,” according to the NPS website, while the other 20% goes to parks that do not charge entrance fees.
National parks are America’s best idea, and there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day. The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The others are free all the time. The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the military, families of fourth-grade students, and disabled citizens. Learn more about the variety of passes offered by the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass series.