How to Visit the National Parks for Free in 2023

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

A road in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the many parks that will be free during certain days in 2023.

Photo by Josh Carter/Unsplash

Mark your calendars, budget travelers: The National Park Service has announced its “entrance-fee free” dates for 2023. On these days, the more than 100 park sites that normally charge visitors to enter will offer complimentary admission to everyone. In total, there are five free days throughout the year.

“National parks are really amazing places and we want everyone to experience them,” National Park Service director Chuck Sams said in a statement. “The entrance fee-free days encourage people to discover the beauty, history, and inspiration awaiting them in more than 400 national parks throughout the country.”

In 2023, you can visit U.S. national parks for no fee on these dates:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 22: First day of National Park Week
  • August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • September 23: 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 2022 to include current information.

Maggie Fuller is a San Francisco–based but globally oriented writer driven to provoke multicultural worldviews as a multimedia journalist. She covers sustainability, responsible travel, and outdoor adventure.

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