Did you find your park? It’s not too late. Make it a point to discover the awe-inspiring beauty or the rich cultural history of the United States by visiting a National Park Service Site in 2017 with your family. US national parks offer many free sites and the biggest attractions like Grand Canyon offer several fee-free days in 2017.

Planning a National Park trip, check out the fee-free days in 2017 and the National Park Pass.

The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona offers epic vistas for family travelers. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks TravelingMom

US National Parks for Free!

National parks offer priceless beauty and for 10 days in 2017 the admission price is just that–priceless. Only 124 of the 413 US national parks charge admission ($3 to $30). The remaining sites are free to enter year-round.

With iconic destinations like Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Zion National Park, your family can explore the United States’ most distinct spots. Throw the tent in the SUV and it’s a budget vacation kids will remember for years (most camping spots are less than $30 a night).

Planning a National Park trip, check out the fee-free days in 2017 and the National Park Pass.

Kids love things that go BOOM so a trip to Mount St Helens was a must. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks TravelingMom

NPS History

The US national parks are an American innovation that has been adopted across the world. The first national park, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, was set aside in 1872 to protect and preserve it for future generations. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service to govern the 35 national parks in the U.S. at the time.

Since then, the National Park Service has blossomed into 413 national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields and national seashores. While some parks feature vast, iconic scenery like Big Bend National Park in West Texas; others are recognized for their historical significance like the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Other national park sites document important events, like Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Looking to keep your kids exploring without killing your budget? Try a National Park! With 10 fee-free days in 2017, there's a park in your state.

Family Trips to National Parks offer iconic destinations at affordable prices. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks TravelingMom

Fee-Free Days at US National Parks

The National Park Service charges reasonable fees for the parks, a week in Grand Canyon National Park is $30 for seven days for a carload of people. Though the National Park Service offers several fee-free days sprinkled throughout the year.

Note: Fee-free days do not include user fees like camping, boat launches, shuttle buses and tour fees.

NPS Fee Free Days 2017

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday January 16, 2017
Presidents Day February 20, 2017
National Park Weekends April 15-16 & April 22-23, 2017
National Park Service Birthday August 25, 2017
National Public Lands Day September 30, 2017
Veterans Day Weekend November 11-12, 2017

National Park Pass

If you plan on visiting several national parks, an annual National Park Pass might be for you. There are several options. I’ve been an National Park Pass holder for years.

Planning a National Park trip, check out the fee-free days in 2017 and the National Park Pass.

National parks can be explored anytime of the year, we prefer the desert parks of the Southwest during the winter. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker / National Parks TravelingMom

Type of National Park Pass

Eligibility

Cost

America the Beautiful Pass All visitors $80
Military Pass Current U.S. military members and their dependents Free
Senior Lifetime Pass U.S. citizens and permanent residents 62 years and older $10
Access Pass U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a permanent disability Free
Volunteer Pass Visitors volunteering 250 hours a year Free

Tips from a TravelingMom:

  • National Parks are popular destinations during school breaks and holidays–make reservations as early as possible. Reservations for lodging are available 13 months in advance.
  • Parking can be an issue at popular destinations during the middle of the day.
  • Watch your children at all times, many features have barricades kids can climb over.
  • Wild animals are unpredictable, give them space and don’t feed them.
  • Bring food and refillable water bottles for your visit. Food service can be limited.
  • Know your personal limits and the limits of your equipment.
  • If you don’t have kids traveling with you, most parks allow adults to complete the NPS Junior Ranger booklets for the same badge or patch.

What is your favorite US National Park?