National parks and public lands are scattered around the U.S. and offer opportunities to learn more about the heritage and natural wonders of the local area. There are more than 400 designated national parks and 2,000 federal recreation areas in the U.S.
If budget is a priority, here are several ways to see the parks without paying a fee at the gate.
2022 free days at national parks
- January 17: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 17: First day of National Park Week.
- August 4: One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday.
- September 24: National Public Lands Day.
- November 11: Veterans Day.
Free days at National Parks are not your only opportunity to save money.
Every Kid Outdoors
Beginning on September 1 and ending August 31, kids in the fourth grade can access their own Every Kid Outdoors pass. It covers every national park in the U.S.
These national parks are always free
- North Cascades National Park, Washington
- Redwood National Park, California
- Channel Islands National Park, California
- Great Basin National Park, Nevada
- Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee
While the yearly pass for nearly 2,000 federal recreation sites is $80, there are several programs that offer free access. Your pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges, standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Your pass gets you into the gate and covers standard amenity fees and day-use fees. It covers up to four adults in the vehicle. Children age 15 or under are always free.
- Military Pass – For current U.S. military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Family members.
- Senior Pass – Once you reach the age of 62 you pay $80 for the annual pass and never have to pay again. Or you can pay a $20 yearly pass if you don’t need a lifetime pass.
- Access Pass – Free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
- Volunteer Pass – Free annual pass for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
Now is the time to plan your trip to one of the 2,000 federal recreation sites around the country. Find out where you can get your passes and get outdoors!