Every national park in America is free to visit for a few days each year. That includes bucket-list destinations like the Grand Canyon and Zion but also hundreds of other national monuments, national seashores, national historic sites, and national recreation areas.
Come and experience the national parks! On five days in 2023, all National Park Service (NPS) sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. Mark your calendar for these entrance fee-free dates in 2023:
- January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 22: First Day of National Park Week
- August 4: Great American Outdoors Day
- September 23: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
“National parks are really amazing places and we want everyone to experience them,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “The entrance fee-free days encourage people to discover the beauty, history, and inspiration awaiting them in more than 400 national parks throughout the country.”
Detailed information about what there is to see and do at each park is available on NPS.gov or the NPS app. People need to know before they go what is open and available especially if interested in overnight accommodations.
>> Read Next: America the Beautiful: The National Parks
In 2021, 297 million people visited national parks and spent $20.5 billion in local communities. This supported 322,600 jobs across the country and had a $42.5 billion benefit to the U.S. economy.
Most national parks are always free to enter. Only about 100 of the 400+ national parks have an entrance fee. For parks with an entrance fee, the cost ranges from $5 to $35 and the money remains in the NPS with 80-100 percent staying in the park where collected. The funds are used to enhance the visitor experience by providing programs and services, habitat restoration, and infrastructure maintenance and repair.
>> Read Next: From Arches to Zion: The Essential Guide to America’s National Parks
The fee waiver for the fee-free days applies only to NPS entrance fees and does not cover amenity or user fees for camping, boat launches, transportation, special tours, or other activities.
The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas including all national parks for the pass holder and companions accompanying them.
>> Read Next: The 8 Best National Parks for a Weekend Getaway
There are also free or discounted passes available for currently serving members of the U.S. military and their dependents, military veterans, Gold Star Families, fourth-grade students, disabled citizens, and senior citizens.
Other federal land management agencies offering their fee-free days in 2023 are the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
More on national parks
Not sure which park to visit on these five days?
RVing with Rex has posted a series of Ultimate Guides to…
These resources were written for RVers who wish to explore a national park or other location in depth and often highlight cheap and free things to do while traveling in the area. Having a tried-and-true itinerary can assist you in maximizing your time in a NPS site by showcasing the highlights including hiking trails and campgrounds in and near the park.
Selected guides include:
- The Ultimate Guide to Arches National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Grand Canyon National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Saguaro National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Joshua Tree National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to White Sands National Park
National parks are sacred and cherished places—our greatest personal and national treasures. It’s a gift to spend a year adventuring and capturing incredible images and stories in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
—Jonathan Irish, photographer