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How to Visit the National Parks for Free in 2021

By AFAR Editors

Dec 30, 2020

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Yosemite National Park is one of the many parks that will be free during certain days this year.

Photo by Josh Carter on Unsplash

Yosemite National Park is one of the many parks that will be free during certain days this year.

The U.S. National Park Service announced six days this year when you can explore the great outdoors for no price at all.

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Mark your calendars, budget travelers: The National Park Service announced its “entrance-fee free” dates for 2021. On these days, the more than 100 park sites that normally charge visitors to get in will offer complimentary admission to everyone. In total, there are six free days throughout the year.

In 2021, you can visit U.S. national parks for no fee on these dates:

  • January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 17: First day of National Park Week
  • August 4: One-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 25: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Note that this waiver does not include fees for activities such as commercial tours, transportation, or campsites and third-party concessions. 

Days with no entrance fee are a perfect opportunity to revisit a favorite park or explore a new one. Of the 419 parks managed by the National Park Service, 108 charge regular entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35 that will be waived. This includes popular parks like Yosemite in California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Olympic in Washington, Zion in Utah, and Acadia in Maine.

If you’d rather beat the crowds and use this opportunity to explore some less-visited, though equally scenic, national parks, then consider spending the day at Shenandoah in Virginia, Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California, or Guadalupe in Texas.

For avid parkgoers, the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is only $80 ($20 for seniors; free for active military members) and allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas year-round.

This article originally appeared online on January 12, 2017; it was updated in December 2020 to include current information.

>>Next: 11 Crowd-Free National Parks You Should Visit Instead

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