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Enjoy a Fee-Free Day in a National Park

by Rebecca Watson
A person wearing boots walks through a field
iStock / eclipse_images

With over 400 sites, there is much to do and see in the National Park System, and there’s no better time to discover a new park than on a fee-free day! Each year, the National Park Service designates several special days when parks that normally charge an entrance fee offer free admission to everyone. So mark your calendar and get ready to explore a new park on one of these fee-free days!

Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15, 2024

Birth Home at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Birth Home at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park (NPF Photo / Katie Bricker Photography)

Commemorated on the third Monday of January, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the first fee-free day of the year. Walk in the steps of this civil rights leader in parks across the country, or visit other parks connected with the civil rights movement in America. The National Park Foundation is proud to support the protection and preservation of sites such as Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s historic home office in Washington, D.C. and Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York. In 2018, the National Park Foundation (NPF) facilitated the purchase of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth home and its immediate transfer to the National Park Service, ensuring its protection for future generations. Additionally, as part of NPF's Women in Parks initiative, NPF's African American Experience Fund supported the park's development of an exhibit exploring and honoring the life and contributions of Coretta Scott King.

Dr. King’s birthday is also a day of service, when hundreds of volunteers across the country participate in service projects at parks. Give back to our parks by making your fee-free day “a day on, not a day off.” To get started, use our guide on how to become a national park volunteer, and search volunteer opportunities at a park near you at

First Day of National Park Week

April 20, 2024

Cyclists in Glacier National Park (NPS Photo / Alex Stillson)

Each April, during the presidentially proclaimed National Park Week, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation join together to celebrate national parks and programs across the country and encourage everyone to discover the nation’s diverse natural and cultural heritage. A week full of fun activities, the first day of National Park Week is a fee-free day, the perfect opportunity to explore new parks and discover the wonder our national parks hold.

Even after the fee-free fun is done, National Park Week is a great reminder of all the ways you can show our parks some love year-round. Share your favorite picture from a park visit, use special Instagram stickers on your social media posts, become a Junior Ranger, escape the everyday by tuning into PARKTRACKS, an audio experience featuring the sounds of our national parks, or donate to support our parks and the programs that continue to inspire future park champions.


June 19, 2024

Stewart's Canal at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park (NPS Photo)

Established as a national holiday on June 17, 2021, Juneteenth (June 19) is one of the oldest known commemorations related to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Celebrated annually on June 19, Juneteenth marks the date of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from slavery in the United States, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the Proclamation was signed January 1, 1863, Texas, being the farthest Confederate state, delayed enforcing it, requiring eventual military intervention.

From 1865 forward, the day has held special meaning and is an important date on the timeline of slavery history in the United States. The National Park Foundation supports sites that preserve and share the histories and stories of enslaved peoples in the United States and their struggle for freedom. Celebrate Juneteenth by visiting any National Park Service site on this fee-free day.

Great American Outdoors Day

August 4, 2024

Courthouse Wash at Arches National Park (NPS Photo / Kait Thomas)

On August 4, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law, helping address deferred maintenance projects in our national parks and public lands. National parks host more than 325 million visitors a year, and significant repairs to roads, trails, water treatment systems, visitor facilities, and more, are needed. A historic achievement supported by the National Park Foundation, the Great American Outdoors Act helps protect our parks so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Seize the fee-free day outdoors! Take to the trails to explore a new path, grab a bike to roam next to a lakeshore, or float along some of the most magnificent landscapes in our national parks. This summer fee-free day is perfect for enjoying all that our national parks have to offer.

National Public Lands Day

September 28, 2024

Volunteers in Anacostia Park (NPS Photo / Rachel Hendrix)

Established in 1994, National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort, celebrating the connection between people and the green spaces in their communities. Held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day inspires environmental stewardship and encourages the use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits. NPF is proud to support volunteer opportunities in parks across the country year-round, including tree planting at Flight 93 National Memorial and service corps programs.

On this day, roll up your sleeves and volunteer! Whether it’s your first time volunteering in a park, or it’s a recurring part of your routine, donating your time and service to the national parks, helps maintain these treasured places so we can continue to enjoy their recreational, educational, and health benefits.

Veterans Day

November 11, 2024

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (NPS Photo / Tom Engberg)

Veterans Day, held annually on November 11, offers the chance to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country. Many national parks have direct connections to the American military and can serve as reminders of home for those stationed abroad. The National Park Foundation supports sites that share these stories across the country, including Little Bighorn National Monument, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, and the Washington Monument, as well as programs and projects that connect veterans to our national parks.

Honor those who have served by visiting a park with a tie to America’s military history on this fee-free day. Pay tribute to the incredible men and women – past and present – who answered the call of duty by learning more about those who served and what they fought to protect. Attend a Veterans Day event in a park, visit a site of remembrance, learn about the past and current military use of parks, and honor the service of American veterans.

Plan Your Visit

Tiger Key at Everglades National Park (NPS Photo)

Whether you’re visiting a park nearby or trekking to a park across the country, make sure you’ve planned out your visit. Be sure to know before you go by checking park conditions and the latest park information and make your visit a safe one. Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on our public lands, ensuring they will be enjoyed for generations to come.

If you need help finding a park to visit, try our Find Your Park Quiz. By answering just a few questions, we’ll match you with parks nearby or those that feature some of your desired activities or landscapes. And when you’re home from your visit, make sure to post about your experience in our Pics & Recs Gallery, or find us on social media.