Year 2018, you can get into all U.S. national parks for free on April 21, the first day of National Park Week. If you miss the day, you can next get in free on Sept. 22 and also on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Be aware that the waived entrance fees do not cover any user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.
“National parks connect all of us with our country’s amazing nature, culture and history,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds in a news release. “The days that we designate as fee-free for national parks mark opportunities for the public to participate in service projects, enjoy ranger-led programs, or just spend time with family and friends exploring these diverse and special places.”
Normally, 118 of the 417 national parks charge an entrance fee. The other 299 national parks do not.
It’s worth making note of these dates as the price of going to national parks could jump over the summer. Faced with an $11 billion deferred maintenance backlog at all National Park Service sites, the agency has proposed raising entrance fees for a seven-day vehicle pass from $30 to $70 in 17 of the most popular parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. The good news is that even if the fees go up, the increase only takes effect during the peak season — or those summer months when parks are jammed with families and tourists. During the rest of the year, fees would remain at their current levels.
When it comes to those 62 and older, the price of a lifetime Senior Pass increased in August 2017 from $10 to $80. It was the first increase since 1994. For those with kids or grandkids, the Every Kid in a Park program gives all fourth-graders in America a pass that allows them into all the national parks in the country for free, for an entire year. As an added bonus, parents, siblings, friends and educators can also take advantage of the free pass.
If you choose to visit a park during National Park Week, check out the park service’s website for a list of special programs and events taking place at parks from April 21 to 29. Among them are Earth Day on April 22, Military & Veteran Recognition Day on April 28 and National Park Rx Day on April 29.
by AARP | March 7, 2018|