In celebration of the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced free entrance to national parks and public lands for August 5, 2020, and he designated August 4th as the “Great American Outdoors Day.” In future years, every August 4 will be a free entrance day to celebrate the signing of this landmark legislation, joining the other scheduled entrance fee-free days which commemorate or celebrate significant dates.
The Great American Outdoors Act will enable national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources, and enable increased access for all visitors.
The Great American Outdoors Act combines two major conservation initiatives into one legislative package. It establishes the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund (Restoration Fund) and guarantees permanent full funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funding of this magnitude will reduce the maintenance backlog, protect critical resources, increase recreational offerings, and focus on long-term sustainable operations for the next century.
The investment will pay dividends. Public lands are an important contributor to a strong and growing outdoor recreation economy that benefits states and local communities. National parks have been experiencing record-breaking attendance in recent years, including hosting 328 million visitors in 2019. National park visitor spending supports nearly 330,000 jobs and contributes more than $40 billion annually to the national economy, including more than $20 billion in communities surrounding parks.
There are 109 national parks that charge entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35. The other 310 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.
Where it is currently possible to adhere to public health guidance, outdoor spaces in national parks are open to the public, as well as some facilities.