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.
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).
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.
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.
Type of National Park Pass
|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.