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Here’s how you can visit national parks for free in 2023


The only thing better than visiting the hundreds of beautiful national parks across the U.S. is visiting them for free.

The National Park Service has designated six fee-free days in 2024 for all U.S. national parks from coast to coast. On these days, you can visit national parks without paying an entry fee, which range from about $3 per person to $35 per vehicle. Once in, you’ll still have to pay for activities like camping, boat launches, special tours and transportation. However, these free national park admission days provide a great opportunity to save on a visit to one of the country’s most picturesque places when money is tight.

Related: The best US national parks you should visit at least once (or twice)

Of the 425 national park sites, more than 300 are free to visit, but 109 currently charge an entrance fee. While national parks are generally affordable, and the fee contributes to park upkeep, that expense can add up — especially when staying overnight or visiting multiple parks during a single trip.

Either way, the NPS offers these free days to encourage more people to get outside and enjoy the country’s most stunning landscapes.


Visit FindYourPark.com (or EncuentraTuParque.com) for ideas on nearby parks to visit.

You may also want to call the national park’s visitor center before you arrive to find out if there are special activities planned for the fee-free days, what areas are best for avoiding crowds and any tips on parking or public transit options for getting to the park.

Related: I went to one of the least-visited national parks in the US: Here’s why I already want to return

Here’s everything you need to know to plan a visit during one of this year’s free national park days.

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When are free national park days in 2024?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. ITAI MINOVITA/GETTY IMAGES

This year, there are six days when admission is free to all national park visitors:

  • Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 20 – First Day of National Park Week
  • June 19 – Juneteenth
  • Aug. 4 – Great American Outdoors Day
  • Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

Related: Best places to stay near Zion National Park

Other ways to visit national parks for free


In addition to fee-free days, certain visitors may be eligible for free annual or lifetime passes that cover entrance fees and standard day-use fees at U.S. national parks.

The pass covers entry for the pass owner and all occupants in a personal vehicle (at sites that charge per vehicle) or the pass owner and up to three adults (16 and older) at sites that charge per person. Children 15 or under are admitted for free at parks where you have to pay per person.

Military Annual Pass

Current U.S. military members and their dependents, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, can apply for a free military annual pass. You can apply for the pass online or in person at select federal recreation sites.

Military Lifetime Pass

With a Military Lifetime Pass, Gold Star families and U.S. military veterans can visit national parks for free. You can apply for the pass online or in person at select federal recreation sites.

4th Grade Pass

U.S. fourth graders, including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age, can apply for a free pass valid throughout their fourth grade school year and the following summer (September-August). To obtain the pass, you must first print out a paper voucher by visiting the Every Kid Outdoors website.

You can bring the paper voucher to any valid federal recreation site that charges a fee and exchange it for your official Annual 4th Grade Pass. The pass also admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free.

Access Pass

The Access Pass is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. You can apply for the pass in person, online or by mail. The Access Pass is a lifetime pass that offers free entry and a discount on some amenity fees, such as camping, swimming, interpretive services and boat launching.

Volunteer Pass

Volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies participating in the Interagency Pass program can apply for an annual Volunteer Pass. Eligible participants should contact their volunteer coordinator for more details.

Bottom line

With all national parks waiving entrance fees on six select days throughout 2024, it’s a good time to start planning how you can take advantage of the day. You can see the entire list of participating parks and national monuments here.

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