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. National Park Free Entrance Days
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).
This year, there will be 5 days when you can visit any of the country’s stunning national parks for free.
National Park Free Entrance Days for 2022 are:
- Monday, January 17 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
- Saturday, April 16 – First Day of National Park Week.
- Thursday, August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
- Saturday, September 24 – National Public Lands Day.
- Friday, 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.
4 Best U.S. National Parks
For more than 100 years, the National Park Service has managed millions of acres solely for the “enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Today, 63 national parks in the United States draw millions of visitors a year to unique natural wonders and unforgettable terrains. To determine the best U.S. national parks, U.S. News considered the opinions of both travel experts and recent park visitors.
#1 in Best U.S. National Parks
One of California’s most-visited national parks, Yosemite National Park stands out for its bevy of impressive waterfalls, such as Vernal Fall and Bridalveil Fall, as well as unique granite rock formations like Half Dome and El Capitan. There are ample scenic hiking and camping opportunities in Yosemite as well. Whatever your itinerary may be, make sure to stop by the Tunnel View Outlook, which offers a showstopping panoramic view of Yosemite Valley. What’s more, the picturesque lookout spot is relatively easy to access
#2 in Best U.S. National Parks
Even if Yellowstone didn’t hold the incredible distinction of being the world’s first national park, the 2.2 million-acre park could easily stand on its own for its unique natural attractions and diverse geography. What’s more, this behemoth national park stretches across three states: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Here, travelers can get lost in the splendor of Yellowstone’s many lakes, mountains, buffalo-filled valleys and, of course, its unmatched geysers and hot springs. To avoid the crowds that often plague the park, plan to visit in April, May, September or October.
#3 in Best U.S. National Parks
Water and mountains define this national park, which spans two mountain ranges and includes more than 700 lakes across Montana. Take advantage of the park’s expansive hiking trails, and be sure to hit traveler favorites like the Trail of the Cedars and Iceberg Lake Trail. Other activities visitors can enjoy include a ride along scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road and a trip to the unique Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s more, Glacier National Park hosts plenty of free ranger-led activities like guided hikes and stargazing events ideal for visitors of all ages
#4 in Best U.S. National Parks
The Grand Canyon is so magnificent that even the highest quality photos don’t do the Arizona park’s vast beauty justice – you just have to see it in person. The 18-by-277-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site offers endless hiking opportunities with trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty, as well as the chance to raft the Colorado River. For a slight break from the tourist crowds, head to the less-crowded North Rim. And if you’re looking for a different vantage point, consider a helicopter tour to learn more about the Grand Canyon and see it in all its glory from above.
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.
Are you on a mission to see the best scenery on the west coast?
Well, we certainly have the trip for you. This 13-day adventure will get you up close and personal with not one, but five of some of the most popular national parks in the United States. Embark on hikes in Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Yosemite all while enjoying yourself and making memories with your newest travel buddies. We think it’s time to treat yourself to something special, something that will allow you to get back out there and experience the beautiful world we live in. It’s easy to have the time of your life camping in the desert, eating pizza along the rim of the Grand Canyon, seeing the wild landscapes of Yosemite, and surfing along one of Southern California’s beaches. The hardest part won’t be deciding if you should go, it will be when you have to come home. Check availability.