Enjoy a Fee-Free Day in a National Park

Rebecca WatsonNPF Blog
Close up on boots walking through tall grass
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 18, 2021

Facade of the Birth Home at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, a yellow two-story home with green and brown trim. A handful of steps lead to a covered porch.

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 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.

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 volunteer.gov.

First Day of National Park Week

April 17, 2021

A curvy road snakes through the forest with gray rocky mountain in distance. We look down the length of the road and see two cyclists ahead

Cyclists at Glacier National Park

NPS Photo / Alex Stillson
National Park Week
Learn more about how to celebrate National Park Week

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 #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque 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. Join our We Heart Parks Facebook group, 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.

Great American Outdoors Day

August 4, 2021

Golden sunlight illuminates an expansive panel of rock. Picturesque clouds float in the sky, and in the foreground, light green plants flourish

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 Park Service's Birthday

August 25, 2021

A ranger in uniform stands along a paved trail, smiling at the camera. In the background, the Grand Teton mountains can be seen

Ranger Millie at Grand Teton National Park

NPS Photo / Mattson

Marking the day when, the National Park Service was officially established in 1916, this day is when we recognize all that the National Park Service has done to protect and preserve our diverse cultural and recreational resources and connect new park visitors to our public lands. This fee-free day is a great opportunity to experience special birthday events happening at a park, take a ranger-led tour, or try out a new recreational activity.

Thinking up what to get the National Park Service for its birthday? Purchase your annual park pass, so you can visit any day sans fees for the upcoming year while supporting the parks, explore a lesser-known national park site, thank a NPS Ambassador for their work, or make a gift to the National Park Foundation.

National Public Lands Day

September 25, 2021

A volunteer wearing a safety vest holds up a large root that she's removed from the ground

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, 2021

A large two-story house with several windows surrounded by green grass on a partly cloudy day, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument

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

A yellow canoe rests on a sandy shore next to water in Everglades National Park

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 follow Recreate Responsibly guidelines when you do visit. 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.

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