Free Entrance Days at US National Parks

As the CDC still recommends that people not gather indoors, it’s great to have beautiful outdoor options at the US National Parks, most of which are open with regular hours. Choose your favorite parks and plan a visit when you can get free entrance to any of the US National Parks!

Free Entrance to US National Parks for ParkRx Day on Saturday April 17, 2021

Free Entrance to US National Parks for ParkRx Day on Saturday, April 17, 2021

Be sure to check with the park you visit to learn about visitor policies, COVID-19 procedures, and any other park news/updates. The parks are asking the public to partner with them to adopt social distancing practices when visiting parks. The NPS encourages visitors to follow CDC guidance to reduce the spread of disease and recreate responsibly.

 

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Celebrate the coast-to-coast natural beauty of the USA with a trip to your favorite National Park on special dates when there is no entrance fee required!

There are currently 6 fee-free National Park days each year, plus certain groups of people qualify for a free annual pass! Learn more about these great opportunities to experience places like Georgia’s National parks or other internationally famous sites like the Everglades, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and many, many more!

Find a park near you / your vacation site with this National Park Service online tool.

 

US National Parks Free Entrance Days 2021

Enjoy the park(s) of your choice with no entrance fees on select dates!

The Free Entrance Days in 2021 occur on:

Dates marked above with an asterisk (*) are days where all visitors also receive free entrance to US National Forest Sites!

Grab your backpack and action camera and choose a National Park for your next free visit!

 

Free US National Park Passes

In addition to the Free Entrance Days available to everyone without advance signup, there are also other ways to get free entrance into the US National Parks. Check out these programs to see if you qualify for a free pass!

 

Every Kid in a Park Program

Families with kids are invited to participate in the “Every Kid in a Park” program when they have a child in the 4th grade. Additionally, due to the pandemic shutdowns, 5th graders can also participate in the 2020-2021 school year. Learn more below

4th Graders – Free Pass Available Each School Year

All 4th graders are invited to get a free annual National Parks Pass from the “Every Kid in a Park” program!

Every Kid in a Park - Free Parks Pass for 4th Graders

Every Kid in a Park – Free Parks Pass for 4th Graders

With the Every Kid in a Park pass, fourth graders can bring family and friends on adventures free for a full year. Signup in August to take advantage of a full year of free admission to all of the National Parks (you can sign up any time of the year, but the program only lasts through August)!

 

5th Graders – Free Pass for 2020-2021 School Year

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, access to parks was restricted for many 4th graders in 2020. To ensure that all kids get a chance to enjoy the parks, all 5th graders are eligible for a free annual parks pass for the 2020-2021 school year.

Every Kid in a Park - Free Parks Pass for 5th Graders (2020-2021)

Every Kid in a Park – Free Parks Pass for 5th Graders (2020-2021)

Download the 5th-grade voucher for more information.

 

Gold Star Families and US Military Veterans

Beginning on Veterans Day 2020, Gold Star Families and Military Veterans are eligible for free access to National Parks, Department of the Interior agencies, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Gold Star Families Free Access to National Parks

Gold Star Families Free Access to National Parks

Veterans may simply show valid identification to gain free access. Gold Star Families must download a Free Access Voucher and follow instructions to receive free access to these sites.

 

US Military Pass

Current U.S. military members (and their dependents) in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserve, and National Guard members are eligible for a free annual pass. Obtain this pass with a valid ID at one of the federal recreation sites that issue free passes.

 

Access Pass

U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities are eligible for a free pass with documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. Obtain the free access pass in person, online, or via mail (note that using online or mail requires a $10 processing fee).

 

Volunteer Pass

Volunteers with at least 250 service hours (with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program) are eligible for a free 12-month Volunteer Pass. Visit Volunteer.gov or contact your local federal recreation site for more information about volunteer opportunities.

 

Discounted US National Park Passes

For those that do not qualify for the free pass programs above, discounted passes to National Parks are also available to senior citizens!

 

Senior Pass

Discounted National Park passes are also available for seniors aged 62+. Applicant must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship. Seniors may choose either a discounted annual pass for $20 or discounted lifetime pass for $80.

These discounted annual park passes are likely to pay for themselves after the very first park visit!

 

Find National Parks to Visit

Browse the list of National Parks in Georgia (including the multi-state Appalachian Trail), or learn more about all of the 417 park sites within the National Park Service.

Appalachian Trail - GaMountainsGuide.com

Appalachian Trail in Georgia – one of the many beautiful US National Parks

I have traveled to all 50 states and have visited over 40 of our US National Parks — I can confirm that these national treasures contain some of the nation’s most beautiful places! I cannot recommend them enough.

My favorite parks include Hawai’i Volcanoes, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, New River Gorge, Badlands, and Zion. The parks that are still on my list of National Parks to visit include Joshua Tree, Saguaro, Crater Lake, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

 

US National Parks Response to COVID-19

Check with individual parks before your visit to get the latest news on park-specific COVID modifications.

Modifications to park operations will be flexible, continually evaluated, and adjusted on a park-by-park basis with the support of NPS and Department of the Interior (DOI) leadership.

…some facilities and services may be limited. Before visiting, please check with individual parks regarding changes to park operations. If you choose to visit a national park, please ensure that you follow CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Updates about the National Park Services ongoing COVID-19 response are posted online at nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.

 

Tips for Enjoying US National Park Visits

Be sure to take provisions suitable for your National Park adventure, which may include water, a backpack with snacks, a compass and map, sunscreen, and a camera to record your memories! The correct gear will make all the difference in your enjoyment of your park visit(s). If you stay within Georgia, you’ll have different needs from someone on a trip to a more extreme environment like Alaska or Hawaii.

 

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Be sure to drink enough water and fluids and have some high-energy snacks throughout the day. These items should travel well at the park.

 

Choose Appropriate Footwear

Be sure to take appropriate footwear that has been previously worn/broken in.

 

Layer Your Clothing

Research the weather and the conditions of the park that you will be visiting. Dress in layers of comfortable, moisture-wicking, or fast-dry clothing so that you can adjust to changing conditions throughout the day.

 

Be Comfortable

A little planning can help you be more comfortable as you explore the park. Take items like water shoes, extra dry socks, SPF lip balm, and hair ties in your pack to ensure the most comfort in the park.

 

Stay Protected

Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert to changing conditions. Stay on the marked trails and be prepared for common surprises.

 

Be Prepared

Keep basic first aid and emergency supply items on you to make sure you can best handle any emergency.

 

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For more about great parks in the area, see the GaMountainsGuide.com post about the national, state, and local parks in the Georgia mountains.

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What are your favorite parks? Please share this post with others who would love to visit an amazing National Park for free!

36 Responses

  1. Cynthia says:

    It’s good to know that everyone can access these beautiful National Parks, either on the free days or through a special discounted or free pass.  Here in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we have numerous State Parks (the closest National Park is 2+ hours away) and I get a Parks Pass Plate when registering my car for $80 a year, all of which goes to maintain the parks.  For this, I can transport as many people as can fit in my car for free.  It would be interesting to know if there are any discounts, so I’m definitely going to look into it.  Thanks for posting!

    • Alyce says:

      Thanks for sharing Cynthia! The White Mountains in NH are stunning and I love that the state has a special license plate to help promote the parks and keep them maintained!

  2. Beesean says:

    With all the negativity that the coronavirus has brought I’m sure that this one piece of good news will warm the hearts of a lot of people as visiting parks was one of the frequently participated leisurely acts before the lockdown. The information you’ve given in your article is without a doubt important and invaluable to a lot of people. 

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Beesean, this is definitely welcome news as most of us can use a financial break and an excuse to get outside for some fresh air!

  3. Justin says:

    Thanks for the information you have shared – going to a National Park or to one of the National Forest Sites right now is really a nice idea. It’s timely to have the option to do something this nice without having to pay the entrance fee for the National Parks, which can be fairly high at some places. Are they expected to be busy for the National Public Lands Day promotion?

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Justin, 

      The parks do generally welcome more visitors on the free entrance days, but it’s hard to predict what may happen in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic has altered travel plans for people worldwide. I would advise that you plan for the parks to be busy, and try to do your most exciting park visits early in the day before the biggest crowds arrive. 

  4. Nath says:

    Good ones to see here. It is quite fascinating that I have never gone to the park on any of these days before. Probably maybe when I was younger, I light have but I never knew these days were totally free. It could be a good way to inhale new breath and explore life in its entirety all over again after the incessant waves of this virus. Thanks here

  5. Suz says:

    Wow, this is very nice. I mean the possibility foe to enter the us national parks on this days is so cool and it is something that I should want to give a go. I’d didn’t know so much about the free days but now that I have read this, I am willing to go there and have a good time just for free. Thanks!

  6. Bruce says:

    Going to the Park is a really good idea, it helps you get utmost fun and you can always spend quality fun time with your family and loved ones too. Free entrance days at the Uas parks are really nice and they are gonna witness a really large turnup in populations for those days  thanka for Thai information.

  7. Mugalu Mansoor says:

    For really your article has been enjoyable and interesting from the start to its end because you have described well the fee free entrance days at US national parks and one of the days surprisingly is my Wife’s birthday and that is 18th April 2020 for really I didn’t know that its a public holiday in US so am willing to pay a visit on that day with her. Thanks very much

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Mugalu, How wonderful that the 2020 free day for the start of US National Park Week happens to be on your wife’s birthday? Personally I think that a birthday spent enjoying any of the parks is a great way to spend the day!!

  8. Nelson says:

    Great thank you so much for informing us on free entrance days as US national parks, at my own end I and my family have always wanted to visit some of the US national parks but due to entrance fees and  transportation and all the other stuff we have not been able to do so.well with this knowledge I’ve gotten now,we have to take advantage of this free entrance days and visit as many as we want  thank you again for sharing this with us.

  9. PeterMinea says:

    Hello Alyce!

    I am not from the USA, but obviously and surely there are lots of beauties to see within the large areas of the US national parks. Being able to make it for free several days a year is a great deal and people who love nature should not let these occasions go.

    It is enough to see your first “Every kid in a park” picture, that first one with the mountains under the evening sun, and realize how beautiful American landscapes can be.

    Have good luck in your nature trips!

    Peter

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Peter, Even if you are not from the USA, it’s a wonderful place to visit and the National Parks are some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world. As beautiful as these iconic landscapes are in photos, they are much more spectacular in person. I hope you get a chance to visit soon!

  10. Daniella says:

    Hi there,

    Wow, excellent article, I loved the reading!

    We are planning a trip in November 2020 to the US, so I am afraid I will miss the opportunity to enjoy a free entrance to the National park this year. But, you mentioned in the article that there is a free entrance every year, right? Will it be on the same date? It would be beneficial to know so I can plan my trip accordingly.
    Thank you for the useful post!

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Daniella, The dates currently posted are for the free entrance days in 2020, which does include one in November (Veterans Day, November 11)!

  11. David ben says:

    This is in interesting I never new parks had free entrance days,and I would love to advantage of it and visit this place is during these periods of time and I hope the number of days  are increase to maybe once a month because it will help us be able to connect with nature in its diversity.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi David, It would be great to have even more of the free days at US National Parks, but at least these 5 dates each year are a step in the right direction.

      There are some parks that do not charge any fee and are free all year round including the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the TN / NC border. 

  12. Nimrodngy says:

    I’m really excited about  this post. I live in Romania but my best friend is in U.S with Work and Travel program and he is very close to this location. I would like to share this informations with him. Those free entrance are the best gift for students who are in U.S and work to have some money to travel all around this beautiful zones. 

    Keep going with this and good luck.  I will follow your website and i hope next year I will be there too. 

    • Alyce says:

      Thank you for following the site and keep in mind that no matter where you live, you can still visit a US National Park for free on these special dates!

  13. JJ says:

    Thank you for this motivational reminder. I used to visit parks a lot with my grandchildren. It used to be such a special time for us as they learned about nature and, after their closed up apartment existence, they were so happy and free running all around. I didn’t know about all those free days. I appreciate your checklist because almost every time I went I used to forget something. I am looking forward to a visit to these parks next year when my grandkids visit. Thank you.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi JJ, I hope you and your grandkids have a wonderful National Park trip. Remember that if you have grandkids who are in 4th grade this year, to be sure to sign them up for a Free Annual National Parks Pass via the “Every Kid in a Park” program.about:blank#blocked

  14. Eric says:

    Hi Alyce

    I found your article very interesting and informative. I never knew the things you mentioned about national parks.

    It definitely would behoove you to take advantage of those free days.  I will have to try to schedule a trip to one of the Georgia parks on a free day.  Thanks

    All the best

    Eric

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Eric, I hope you do get a chance to visit the Georgia mountains soon. The best part about the free park days is that you can choose to visit any park in the US (not just US National Parks in Georgia)! Enjoy!!

  15. Jen Shepherd says:

    I really enjoyed this topic. I did not know there where so many free entrance days at the National Parks in the U.S. I love how you included those dates and have a countdown to the next free entrance day. I love the pictures but would love to see more of the national parks. This could increase the desire of wanting to visit.

  16. Fran says:

    What a great idea, to promote the free days at the national parks.  Our parks in this country are so wonderful, and free days give us more of an affordable to enjoy many of them.  If one of these parks contains something on your bucket list, going during a free day would be an added advantage.  

    I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail.  If I could also get a free plane ticket, I think I’d go visit while admission is free.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Fran, Even if you can’t make it to Georgia on these dates, you should check the park finder tool to see if there is a park close enough to you that wouldn’t require a free plane ticket (that might be hard to find…). 

  17. Scott Hinkle says:

    Wow, thank you for this.  I had no idea there was even a free entrance day thing let alone 5 each year!  That may alter my plans for future time off requests.

    I thought the lifetime pass for seniors had been discontinued.  I’m glad to hear that this is not the case.  I have a couple of friends and family who would qualify and I’ll be sure to pass this article along to them.

    Again, I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention.  Thank you so much,

    Scott

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Scott, I think that Seniors used to be able to get a much better deal on the National Parks pass, but it’s great that there is at least something available for them to enjoy the golden years and visit the parks. I’ve always enjoyed the experience at every National Park I’ve been to (over 40 and counting)!

  18. Sandikazi Scwebu says:

    This is great, I see the purpose of the the article.  It’s very patriotic, courageous, selfless  and human to enhance awareness about these access packages.   It’s good for people to understand conservation, enjoy the natural beautiful of the Park, the fauna and flora (hope you have both, I’m from SA). It is also good and exemplary for the US National Park to demonstrate social responsibility and love for its veterans.  

    Be blessed. 

    Sandikazi 

  19. Russ Green says:

    Thank you so much for this interesting and informative article on entrance free days at US national parks, like a lot of people these days I’m finding myself on a tight budget and I really do welcome the idea of taking advantage of the national parks free entrance days, a visit to a national park is a real adventure and an exciting day out for the kids, in fact, it’s can also be a very interesting day for the parents too, thank you once more for sharing. 

    Russ    

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Russ, these parks are truly beautiful and fantastic destinations for all ages. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of them and I find myself wanting to go back whenever possible. Even when you think you know what you’re going to see, it’s truly impressive to go experience it in person. Most people I know who have visited these majestic places (like the Grand Canyon) will tell you that pictures just cannot do it justice… and I agree, there is no substitute for an in-person visit.
      I hope you get a chance to visit a national park soon!

      Regards, Alyce

  20. Renata says:

    Hello,

    Nice post of yours! I would love to enjoy some US national park if I can. What actually 4th graders mean? As I am not US citizen I am not aware of this. If I would pick some national park to visit, it would be the one in Georgia and Grand Canyon – this is my personal favourites and I have heard a lot of great reviews on these places. If I go to the USA next year, I would think about this possibility. It is also for foreigners or just US citizens? 

    Thank you for your great post.

    All the best

    Renata

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Renata, the term “4th graders” refers to children who are in their 4th year of elementary school, which usually happens around age 9 – 10. While the programs to get free annual passes to the National Parks are only for US citizens / permanent residents / students, the free park days are available to everyone!

      Warm Regards, Alyce

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