Free Entrance Days at US National Forests

Every year, the US Forest Service offers days when guests can enjoy the US Forest Service sites for free! The US National Forest Service waives recreation fees at most day-use sites on lands managed by the agency on these fee-free days.

Georgia National Forest

Georgia National Forest

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”

Participation in promotions (like these free days) by concession-operated sites may vary, so always check details in advance of your trip.


Free Entrance Days at US National Forests

Mark your calendar for these free 2024 dates and enjoy spending time in these beautiful natural settings both in Georgia and across the USA!

Visit the US Forest Service online for more details about these free 2023 dates when recreation fees are waived at most day-use sites:

US Forest Service Ga Mountains -

US Forest Service sites in the Georgia Mountains

Other ways to get FREE forest entrance include:

  • Volunteers with 20 hours of volunteer work may also earn a free National Forest Annual Pass
  • All 4th graders are eligible for a free annual pass via Every Kid Outdoors program
    • Free annual pass benefit runs for the 4th grade school year (September 1st thru the following August 31st)
    • The annual pass gets the 4th grader plus their siblings and parents into all parks for free for a year!


US National Forest Sites in North Georgia

US National Forest Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests

US National Forest Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests

Browse the extensive list of all the beautiful US Forest Service sites nationwide, or browse the list of sites here in North Georgia in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

There are many unique experiences you can find in the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests — these include some well-developed / well-known facilities and other little-known jewels that are more tucked away.

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide some of Georgia’s best outdoor recreation options and natural resources. These vast forests feature almost 867,000 acres stretched across 26 counties, with thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, 850 miles of recreation trails, plus campgrounds, picnic areas, and more. Enjoy a visit for the natural scenery, long history, and unique culture.

Explore nationwide locations on the interactive map or enjoy visits to some of the great local favorites including:


Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls Helen GA

Anna Ruby Falls Helen GA

Visit beautiful twin waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls near Helen, GA. The local favorite is within Unicoi State Park and features a waterfall that plunges over 150 feet! This pet-friendly location has a picnic area and public restrooms.

Note that the site may have different hours during winter (January and February).


Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail Tree on Hiking Trail at Amicalola Falls Georgia

Crooked Tree on Appalachian Trail near Amicalola Falls Georgia

The southern terminus of the world-famous Appalachian Trail is located in North Georgia! The 75+ miles of the AT passing through Georgia are protected by a one-mile boundary secured by a unique agreement between the US Forest Service and the National Park Service.

Whether you aspire to hike the entire ~2,200 miles, or simply choose to enjoy section hikes through North Georgia, this is a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty of the forests! Click to learn more about the current status of the trail:


Brasstown Bald

Brasstown Bald Mountain Georgia

Brasstown Bald Mountain Georgia

Visit Georgia’s highest peak and take in 360-degree panoramic views from 4,784′ elevation at the top of Brasstown Bald! Picnic tables provide scenic spaces to relax while enjoying the views. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash (no dogs are permitted in the Visitor Center).

Enjoy the views anytime with live webcam views from the South-facing webcam or North-facing webcam.

Note that facilities and shuttles may close for the winter season and open around the beginning of April. The road to the top may close during poor weather conditions.


Helton Creek Falls

Helton Creek Falls Georgia

Helton Creek Falls Georgia

Visit scenic Helton Creek Falls all year round – accessible with only a 0.2-mile hike! No fees to visit.


Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway

Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway

Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway

Enjoy a scenic drive on this National Scenic Byway that is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest and encircles the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River! Expect your ears to pop as they adjust to the changing elevation among the curvy mountain roads and stunning views that change with each season!

Take your time to explore the scenic points of interest along this 40-mile loop that features close to 40 switchbacks!!


Track Rock Gap Petroglyphs (temporarily closed)

Visit this ancient site where the Creek and Cherokee people carved their stories into the boulders of Track Rock. View 100+ carvings of at one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States (the only site located on public land in Georgia). Learn more online and view site details including a map of Boulder 4 and Boulder 6.


All of the above sites are part of the US National Forest system, but some sites have select operations run by outside companies. Please confirm participation in the annual Free Entrance Day events before making a special trip!


Tips for Enjoying the US National Forests

National Forest Georgia

National Forest Georgia

Be sure to be prepared when venturing into a National Forest with items like plenty of water and food, bug spray, sun protection, comfortable shoes and clothing, and working navigation tools. Follow ranger advice and online sources for local seasonal weather advisories.

  • Check for area alerts – many roads and parks are closed during off-seasons or poor weather, so check with the official forest website for current alerts, local conditions, and ongoing updates
  • Share your plans – be sure to let someone know about your travel plans including departure date, travel destination(s), and expected return date
  • Don’t expect cell service – GPS can be unreliable in remote areas, and cell phone coverage is unlikely to be strong when you are deep in the wilderness – download maps in advance, or take waterproof printed maps along with a compass
  • Know the site rules – follow the rules and obtain necessary licenses and permits for restricted activities like fishing and ginseng harvesting

Head out with the right gear to ensure the best time in nature. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!

  • Protect valuables from weather – arrange in advance a way to keep essential items dry with Ziplocs or specially designed waterproof bags
  • Dress for the weather – monitor weather conditions frequently and consider dressing in layers to make quick adjustments on days when the temperature swings rapidly
  • Stay hydrated – be sure that each person in your group carries plenty of water for their round-trip journey
  • Stay alert – be ready for any wildlife encounters and follow recommended precautions to keep safe


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National Forest in GA

National Forest in GA

In addition to getting in free at the US National Forests, there are also five days each year where you can get in free at the US National Parks! With these unbeatable deals, it’s hard to resist a day exploring the natural beauty of the area!

Enjoy your visits to the US National Forest sites across Georgia and the USA.

38 Responses

  1. Leonard says:

    This was a very fun and informative article, and all of these places look so beautiful! It’s amazing being out in nature, though I haven’t been out in nature too much, but reading the article and looking at the beautiful images makes me want to explore it more.

    The only negative I would say, which is about the article itself, I had a bit of trouble reading some of the text. I could still read it if I look closely enough, but it was a little hard for me to see, it’s not something you should worry about too much though as the whole experience of reading the article was great.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Alyce says:

      Thanks again for the feedback, Leonard. 

      I’ll look into things from this end, but if you’re using a PC to browse the internet, you can always use the keyboard shortcut of CTRL + “+” (hold down the CTRL button and the PLUS sign at the same time) to increase the size of your font. When you’re ready to go back to the regular font size, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + “-” to decrease the font size. This tip should work on most websites – I hope it helps!

  2. This was a very fun and informative article, and all of these places look so beautiful! It’s amazing being out in nature, though I haven’t been out in nature too much, but reading the article and looking at the beautiful images makes me want to explore it more.

    The only negative I would say, which is about the article itself, I had a bit of trouble reading some of the text. I could still read it if I look closely enough, but it was a little hard for me to see, it’s not something you should worry about too much though as the whole experience of reading the article was great.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. angelce903 says:

    It’s amazing that you have special free entrance days for your national forests! Here in France, I don’t think thats such a thing exist. I know that you can visit some private forests but on invitation. Moreover, this is the opportunity for modest families to hang out in nature easily and more often, if they can’t afford it on normal times. Thanks for this information, this is very useful.

    • Alyce says:

      It’s certainly a great perk that everyone can access these sites on the annual free admission days! Enjoy!!

  4. Lonnie Webster says:

    Thank you for the tour around the North Georgia Mountains! I was not able to get all the Cams ( I need to do the Abode Flash Player update ) Enjoyed Bryson City Cam. It’s been many years since I was there. I did about a 3 day excursion on the AT starting at springer mountain GA. Approach Trail.This post has brought back some good memories of the North Georgia Mountains. Do you know when the free days begin?

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Lonnie, Towards the top of the post, there is a list of the free entrance days for 2023. The first one is today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day. If you aren’t able to take advantage of the free entrance today, then hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the future free entrance days!

  5. Mila Andretich says:

    I love nature and knowing that there is this possibility to visit these places freely, I think it will make me change some itinerary of some future trip or it will make me plan one on purpose! Wonderful opportunity and unknown to many. Thanks for talking about it, now I know it exists and I can plan for it in the future!

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Mila, The National Forests offer beautiful spaces to enjoy some of the best views in the country. The forests are definitely worth a trip – and it’s always nice to save some money on the free entrance days!

  6. Erlene Schwartz says:

    I enjoyed reading this article and website even though I don’t live anywhere near Georgia. It is an excellent service to provide people the resources for participating in one of their favorite past times. I like how thorough your writing and your topics are. The subjects seem to include everything one would want to know. 

    The area looks to be quite exciting and I would gather that a lot of people enjoy it.  Your inclusion of places to eat, drink, explore, and places to stay overnight is all valuable. Your passion comes through in your writing.

    Plus, even though I don’t live near Georgia, this article is relevant for all forests in the USA (even the ones near me)! Thanks so much!!



  7. Jerry says:

    Reading your article and seeing the pictures of these beautiful forests, really make me want to live in America. Coming from a small country like the Netherlands, we cannot experience any long trails let alone the vastness of the wilderness. I once experienced it a bit going halfway up Mount Rainier in Washington State, albeit in a car(lol).

    The beauty of the scenery in the USA is overwhelming and I will put venturing out there on my bucket list. Thanks for your article.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Jerry, The national forests are definitely one of our national treasures here in the USA. The epic trails like the Appalachian Trail are known worldwide!

  8. Jenni Elliott says:

    Thank you for this interesting and informative article about free days in US National Forests. I was especially interested in the segment about the Appalachian Trail and discovering that 76 miles of it were in Georgia. I had read the book “A Walk In the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I think I will add a trip to the Appalachian Mountains to my “bucket list”. It seems really beautiful.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Jenni, I also enjoyed that book and learning more about the journeys of Appalachian Trail hikers through the stories it told. I hope you’re able to make it here to check it out in person soon! 

  9. Oscar says:

    Heloo there, I really want to say a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful and informative piece on the topic titled, free entrance days at us national forest sites.. I basically stumbled on this site which I must say I am really finding it interesting. It’s filled with so much useful and valuable content, it’s rather very informative. I am definitely going to visit some other times.

    • Alyce says:

      Thanks Oscar! I hope you are able to enjoy one of the beautiful forests on “Fee Free Day” tomorrow and you are welcome to visit this website anytime!! 😉

  10. Eunice Zomachi says:

    This is a great post,  I really like they way everything was spell out. You have given us the best days and  months to visit GA Mountain Forest for tour and get free entrance, another important thing that I appreciate is the Tips you have shared;  comfortables shoes, food, water,sun protection and many more. Thanks for this information.  

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Eunice, the Georgia mountains have four very distinct seasons so you will find the experience to be quite different at each time of year. Some people prefer one season over the others, but there is lots to see no matter when you decide to go! Enjoy your trip!

  11. Mojisola Kupolati (Debbie) says:

    Thank you for the information about the free entrance days at the US National forest. This is a nice reminder in planning my family holidays in November, as we will like to benefit from this opportunity. Thank you for the useful hints to guide us for an enjoyable exploration. I will keep them handy.

    • Alyce says:

      November is a beautiful time of year at the forests in the North Georgia mountains, as the fall colors usually peak during the early to mid-part of the month! 

  12. Tush says:

    Interesting my friend. I did not know that there are free entrance days at US national forests sites five times a year so I am pretty excited even as I take advantage of one of these days to go explore the forests sites. You for sure have provided the best tips and advice with which I can enjoy and have the best experience at the US National Forests. Water is one important thing I can’t do without an hour apart so it is good advice to go with water and follow the rules there.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Tush, It’s so very important to have enough water for each person when venturing out into the forests. For longer hikes I like to carry water in a backpack style container, and for shorter trips I can usually just carry a large refillable water bottle. 

  13. Tammy Goodman says:

    Thanks for providing so much information on the National Forests.  This information is helpful for planning the day. The in depth maps help us to see exactly where things are located and which areas are open .  The Covid Information is extremely helpful to keep everyone updated. It’s great to get the most useful information in one place like this on one site.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Tammy, You are most welcome for the information regarding the free entrance days at these national treasures. I hope you find a great place to enjoy the day!

  14. Selenity Jade says:

    Wow!  I didn’t know that there were free days for visits to the national forests!  That’s freaking awesome.  It’s too soon for me to be able to plan the next one, President’s Day, as it is only 3 days away, but possibly later in the year, I am going to consider it.  If I can get a friend to accompany me.  Thanks again for the information!  I’ll have to keep this in mind going forward.  Not all activities have to be expensive!

  15. Tyranique says:

    Wow. Alyce. I’m not an American but I’m completely shocked that you guys have to pay fees to access the forest! 

    You see, I come from a majority black country of which the tropic of Cancer runs through (the Bahamas). And as you can imagine, its hot 95% of the year (although right now its around 60 degrees and that’s pretty freaking cold for us). So the idea of being outside in the heat is not a pleasant idea and our natural preservation places are practically BEGGING people to enjoy the forest and national parks (we don’t have many forests on the island, and when we do, noone really cares kml)

    So to say that you have to pay fees to get into a forest is wild to me but i love that there are days that you all can access the forest for free.

    Is the fee applicable only to a few areas in the US?

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Tyranique, thanks for sharing. I have visited the Bahamas in February and it was definitely hot and humid outside!

      Unfortunately, most visitors do have to pay to enter most of the US National Forests and US National Parks. While some of the fees are reasonable, other entrance / parking fees can be a lot for a family. The Free Entrance Days are a nice opportunity for people to get into the parks that may otherwise be too pricey for them to visit.

  16. Temidayo says:

    Hi, Does the five days start from November 11 or November 11 is the only day remaining in this year 2019? My friend and her family is looking out for this days but somehow because of her job and all she has going with her it has not been possible. Although it is a few days away, maybe she can make some plans for it this time. I will have to call her up and inform her. Please are there good spots one can camp? 

    Thank you so much for this information. Would really appreciate your feedback.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi, each free day promotions only lasts for one day. The last one single free day for 2019 is on November 11th. I hope this gives you enough opportunity to plan a free visit to a US National Forest.

  17. Anastazja says:

    I found your article on the National Forest System Free Days in GA interesting and informative.  It stimulated me to look at National Forest areas in California. I found one just 90 miles away with camping, trails and classes.  I have not yet been able to find out about free days, but I am excited about the idea of a national forest area right here.  I also enjoy some of the other articles you have publish with information offered about Georgia.  Thank you!

    • Alyce says:

      It’s wonderful to hear that this information has helped you learn more about the Georgia mountains and find some offers that you can take advantage of that are closer to home!!

  18. riverdogg says:

    Cool there is one day left in 2019, Veterans day. My father is a veteran of the US Navy. Would you happen to know if it’s legal to recreationally pan for gold on one of these free entrance days at a US National forest? I’m thinking about doing something like panning, thought it might be fun as we haven’t done that in years. Thanks for any information you can provide me, appreciate it.

    • Alyce says:

      You should be able to use small recreational equipment to pan for gold, but be sure to ask the local park rangers for full details. 

  19. John says:

    Wow, this Isa very good offer and I didn’t even think that it is very good that you can share this post on how one can easily get into the forest sites for free. From the list that you have shared here, I see that I can easily go there in the next ten days all for free on the veterans day. Oak very happy that you did this post. Thank you very much.

    • Alyce says:

      It’s definitely a nice time to visit when you are able to get in for free. Remember that these free days happen each year, but since the dates may change each year, be sure to double check the website for the most current information on free entrance days at the US National Forests!

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