The National Park Service often waives entrance fees for national parks on significant days of commemoration or celebration throughout the year. It’s part of an initiative to increase attendance at the parks and promote public access to outdoor recreation. Looking ahead to 2023, it was just announced that five entrance fee-free days are officially on the calendar.
“National parks are really amazing places and we want everyone to experience them,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “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.” the calendar for next year.
The free entrance days for 2023 are:
- January 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 22 – First Day of National Park Week
- August 4 - Great American Outdoor Day
- September 23 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11 – Veterans Day
Most National Parks Are Always Free To Enter
The majority of national parks are always free to enter. Only about 100 of the more than 400 total national parks in the country charge an entrance fee. Rates for the parks that do charge range between $5 and $35. The money collected through entrance fees goes to the National Park Service. 80 – 100% of those fees go towards funding needs at the park where they were collected. Those funds are used for programs and services like wildlife habitat restoration and infrastructure maintenance and repair.
It’s important to note that the waiver for the fee-free days only applies to entrance fees. It does not cover amenities or user fees for camping, boat launches, transportation, special tours, or other activities.
In 2021, 297 million people visited national parks and spent roughly $20.5 billion in local communities. The financial impact of national park-related tourism supports 322,600 jobs and had an overall economic benefit of $42.5 billion for the national economy.
For those that frequently visit national parks throughout the year, the $80 “America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass” is the best value. It provides unlimited access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas including all national parks. It is not only valid for the pass holder, but also for all guests accompanying them on their visits. The National Park Service also offers discounts for active duty troops, military veterans, Gold Star families, all fourth-grade students, disabled people, and senior citizens on a year-round basis.