2024 National Park Free Days – Visit U.S. National Parks at No Charge!

Every year, the U.S. National Park Service grants free entry to all visitors on designated National Park Free Days. They allow everyone to visit all National Parks and Monuments, National Historic Sites and Battlefields, National Seashores and even National Recreation Areas totaling 423 National Park sites spanning over 85 million acres across the U.S. at NO CHARGE! That’s right!! During the National Park designated free days, anyone can enter without shelling out a penny!

National Park Free Days - Always On Liberty - Free Admission to National Parks

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2024 National Park Free Entry Days

Arches National Park Road - Always On Liberty
Arches National Park  –   Photo by Always On Liberty©

Why does the National Park Service offer free entry days?

The National Park Service grants the National Park free entry days to provide an opportunity to its’ citizens of all ages to visit and experience the parks; especially those National Parks that charge an entrance fee.

How many National Parks are in the U.S.?

National Park Units Within Department of Interior Unified Regions Map

As of the date of publishing this article, there are 423 National Park sites in the United States. Spanning over 85 million acres, our parks extend beyond the 50 states. Our National Parks also extend into American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

However, aside from the 423 designated National Park sites, there are also public lands that are influenced or managed by the National Park Service.

There are over 19 naming designations. While these units are commonly referred to as parks, multiple parks may be managed together as an administrative unit within the National Park Service. (based on NPS data – November 2022)

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Which Parks can you visit on National Park Free Days

Yellowstone National Park - Thermal Feature
Photo sourced from Canva

National Park free days are the perfect time to load up the car and go explore the beauty, culture and history of our America’s National Parks.

But, those free entry days aren’t just limited to the 63 “National Parks” that are located across 30 states.

The free entry also includes those entities in the U.S. territories in the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Puerto Rico that are protected by the National Park Service. But, the question remains, which days are the National Park free days?

This means anyone who enters any of the hundreds of parks across America won’t have to pay the entry fee. Nor do visitors need to present their America the Beautiful or Access pass.

According to the National Park Service participating Parks waive their entrance fees on nationally designated free days.

That said, we do highly recommend that you initially check with each park for operating hours and event schedules before arriving at the entrance gate.

Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic or extenuating circumstances, some national parks and recreation sites may alter their operating hours, fee collection and pass sales, visitor services, and facility operations to protect visitors and staff.

Again, prior to packing up the RV or loading up your car, check with the National Park Site you plan to visit for fee collection, pass availability, service and activities information or park attendance restrictions

What National Park free days don’t cover

Craters of the Moon National Monument - National Park Camping - Always On Liberty
Camping at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho – Photo by Always On Liberty©

While visiting our National Parks for free is nice, there are some entities within the parks that are not free.

For one, camping inside the National Parks is not free. Neither are concessions such as gift shop items and restaurants. Also, some entities under the National Park Service may charge for parking and tours.

For example, Mount Rushmore National Monument charges for parking. The parking facility is operated under a concession contract between the National Park Service and Xanterra Travel Collection.

A parking ticket entitles a non-commercial vehicle unlimited entry to the memorial for one year from the date of purchase.

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What if I’m unable to visit on the National Park free days?

The National Park Service realizes not everyone can take off of work or school to visit on each and every free day. That’s why they designated several different days throughout the year to give everyone a chance to enjoy the parks for free. Listing the days in advance gives plenty of opportunity to plan your visit.  

Now, if you’re still unable to visit the National Park free days, you can save a ton of money by getting a National Park pass that also gets you in at no charge or significant discount.

How much is it to visit a National Park outside of the Free Days?

Sequoia National Park Free Entry - Sequoia Trees with Man
Photo sourced from Canva

The average cost to visit a National Park varies from park site to site. Surprisingly, only about a quarter of our National Park sites charge an entrance fee.

The majority of National Park sites or units are free throughout the year; regardless of day, date or time.

That said, approximately 100 of the U.S. National Parks charge an entrance fee ranging from $5 per person (walk-in or bicycle in) to $35 vehicle fee (including RVs) that covers entrance for up to 4 adults for a specified amount of days. Children ages 15 or under are admitted free.

For example, private non-commercial vehicles can purchase a 7-day pass to Yellowstone National Park for $35 per vehicle.

However, that pass only applies to Yellowstone and no other park. Which means, if you wish to visit Grand Teton National Park, you will be need to pay their entrance fee of $35 per vehicle as well.

Be aware, the National Park free days does not cover online reservation fees, amenity or user fees for activities. This includes camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Again though, an America the Beautiful pass will help save you and your family a ton of money. You should check them out!

National Park Fun Fact

On March 1, 1872, Yellowstone became America’s first National Park.  But also, it’s the world’s first national park because of its’ unique hydrothermal and geologic features. Within Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife in an intact ecosystem, explore geothermal areas that contain about half the world’s active geysers, and view geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

How National Park acquire entrance fees?

Entrance to Devils Tower National Monument Fee Area - National Park Unit - Always On Liberty
Entrance to Devils Tower National Monument – Fee Area – Photo by Always On Liberty©

The U.S. National Parks are partly funded partly through citizen taxation via the federal government.

But also, some National Parks may acquire funds through entry fees. These entrance fees are based on individual walk or bike-ins or by the vehicle up to 4 adults.

Only about a quarter of our National Parks charge daily entrance fees, They can range anywhere from about $10-$15 for an individual walk-in or bike-in.

National Park entrance fees range from between $3 on up to $30 for motorcycles. Or if you’re visiting by car, National Park entrance fees range from $20 to $35 per vehicle. 

Some parks may offer weekly passes for about $35 so visitors can go in and out of their park for up to 7 days.

Also, Saguaro National Park in Tuscon, Arizona offers their own annual pass for about $45 a year. That allows Saguaro National Park Annual Pass holders unlimited visits to that Saguaro National Park only.

As with ALL National Park Interagency Passes, each pass covers up to 4 adults in one vehicle; including the driver. Children under the age of 16 are admitted for free.

How are the National Park entrance fees allocated?

About 80% up to even the entire amount of entrance fees for those particular parks actually remain in those parks where they are collected. The remaining percentage is farmed out to administration fees at the National level. You can learn more about how entrance fees are used to improve the visitor experience.

Can visitors get a discount for visiting multiple National Parks?

Grand Teton National Park Free Days
Photo sourced from Canva

Visiting the National Parks outside of the fee-free days can get pretty expensive; especially if you’ll be visiting multiple parks or even the same park several times through out the year. Even 2 or 3 park visits can rack up about $100.

Realizing that, the National Park Service has implemented several versions of the National Park Pass

Of those, the most popular pass is the Annual Park Pass which any American citizen can buy for $80. It allows you to visit multiple parks and federal lands for a year to the date of the pass.

To obtain your Annual Park Pass, visit any of the designated pass acquisition locations. That said, if you’re only going to visit 1 or 2 National Parks that do charge entry fees, it may not be feasible to get the Annual Pass. Therefore, just pay the entrance fees accordingly.

National Park Interagency Pass Chart
Image Courtesy of NPS

When are the National Park Free Days?

The National Park Service typically designates 5, 6 and sometimes days each year for fee-free entry into all U.S. National Parks and National Park sites.

*Drum Roll* Here’s your 2024 National Park Free Days!

2024 National Park Fee Free Days Always On Liberty
Image by Always On Liberty

January 15, 2024 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

In honor of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Park Service sites will waive entrance fees as the first fee free day of the year.

Commemorating on the third Monday of January every year, it is also a day of service when hundreds of volunteers participate in service projects at parks across the country.

April 20, 2024 – First Day of National Park Week

Every April, during the presidentially proclaimed National Park Week, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation collaborate to celebrate our national parks.

National Park Week is a wonderful time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park.

Therefore, entrance fees will be waived on the first day of National Park Week to encourage everyone to enjoy their National Parks.

June 19, 2024 – Juneteenth

According to the National Park Service, Juneteenth (June 19) is the one of the oldest known commemorations related to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth National Independence Day was signed into law as a national holiday on June 17, 2021. The word “Juneteenth” is a Black English contraction, or portmanteau, of the month “June” and the date “Nineteenth.”

Juneteenth celebrates the date of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people of African descent located in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from the slavery system in the United States.”

The National Park Service invites all visitors to commemorate Juneteenth National Independence Day by visiting any National Park Service site that charges an entrance fee for free on July 19, 2024.

August 4, 2024 – Great American Outdoors Day

Every August 4 will be a free entrance day to celebrate the signing of the the Great American Outdoors Act.

This landmark legislation joins the other scheduled National Park 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.

September 28, 2024 – National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day is also a designated as a National Park Fee-Free Day, granting free admission for visitors to national forests, parks, refuges, and rangelands across the U.S.

To venture out to a forest near you, use their online visitor map to find the nearest national forest or grassland. You can also make reservations for these and other federal lands by visiting Recreation.gov.

November 11, 2024 – Veterans Day

There are dozens of National Battlefields, Military Parks, and Historic Sites that commemorate and honor the service of America’s veterans.

In addition, every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.

Therefore, in honor of those that serve and have served in the United States military, National Park units around the country will be offering all visitors fee-free entry during the Veterans Day weekend.

More great info on America’s National Parks

✰ Do you qualify for a National Park Pass? Which National Park Pass Should You Get?

✰ What to do once you get to a National Park? Making the Most of Your National Park Experience!

✰ Planning your National Park visits? Best Time to Visit America’s Most Popular National Parks!

✰ Go west to see our National Mammal! Best Places to See Bison in America

✰ Can you ride your bicycle on National Park free days? E-bikes in National Parks? *Everything You Need to Know*

✰ South Dakota is the place to visit in the summer months! Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial

✰ Visit one of the most beautiful but least visited National Parks! Why You Should Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

✰ Visiting Arizona? Why You Should Visit Casa Grande Ruins National Monument?

Wrapping up!

Dry Torgugas National Park - Always On Liberty
Dry Tortugas National Park – Photo by Always On Liberty©

So, now are you ready to plan your National Park adventure?! I highly encourage you to make your reservations early, especially the larger and more popular National Parks.

Each National Park has its’ own unique qualities and reasons why it’s a designated National Park. I promise, once you visit one park, you’ll want to visit them all.

RVing to our National Parks?

If you’re bringing your RV to any of our National Parks, it’s super important to plan ahead so your experience will be less stressful. You surely don’t want to end up on the wrong road with low overheads or roads that aren’t safe for RVs.

Also, know that some National Parks may not have RV parking available. Which is reason for finding places to camp nearby so you can enjoy all the adventures in the region.

Trust me, through our 10 years on the road as full-time RVers, we’ve been there! So, we use RV LIFE Trip Wizard to get us to our favorite camping spots and campgrounds utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to our camper and travel preferences.

Learn more and sign up for the FREE 7-Day Trial.

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