The US National Park Service offers free entry a handful of times each year to all of its more than 400 sites. We’re at the last one for 2022.
September 24 marks another free entry day to all National Park Service sites that usually charge an entrance fee.
This free day is in celebration of National Public Lands Day.
It was established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September. The NPS says the day “is traditionally the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort.”
So what’s free?
All entrance fees. That includes not only those marquee national parks such as Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone and Yosemite, but all other types of sites the NPS manages:
• Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland
• Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park in Georgia and Tennessee
• Fort Davis National Historic Site in Texas
• Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland
• Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Oregon and Washington
• Golden Spike National Historic Park in Utah
• Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio
• Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi
Click here for a full listing of every NPS site, which it calls “units.”
Most NPS sites are free all year anyway. Only 108 charge a fee. And as you’d suspect, it’s mostly the big names that ask you to pay to enter: Places such as Arches in Utah, Rocky Mountain in Colorado and Shenandoah in Virginia.
But they’re all free this Friday.
One catch: “The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours,” the NPS says.
Planning pays off
If you’re not much of a planner, it might be a good idea to develop the habit – particularly if you want to see a popular NPS site on a free day.
Of those 420+ sites in the National Park System, the top 25 got more than half of the system’s total number of visits last year. Some parks set all-time records for visitors in 2021.
If you have a particular site you wish to visit, make sure to check its website first. For instance, popular Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains can be open in November, but unpredictable autumn snows can cause short-term closures.
Missed out on this free day? There’s one more left in 2022: Friday, November 11 (Veterans Day).
Top image: Badlands National Park in South Dakota. (Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)