National Parks Are Offering Free Entry This Weekend: Here’s What to Know

by Lauren Boisvert

On certain dates throughout the year, the National Park Service waives entrance fees for visitors, and we’re coming up on one of those dates within a week. September 24 is National Public Lands Day, arguably a big day for the parks. This coming Saturday, all NPS sites will be fee-free. There are over 400 sites, which also include preserves, seashores, memorials, and monuments. So, depending on where you are, there are plenty of places to choose from to get out in nature and enjoy the public lands.

In addition to September 24, the other dates that are fee-free are January 17, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; April 16, the first day of National Parks Week; August 4, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act; and November 11, Veteran’s Day.

About National Public Lands Day on September 24

National Public Lands Day is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September, and this year it falls on the 24th. The day was established in 1994, and, according to the NPS, is “the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort.” People come together to improve their local areas and monuments, plant gardens, or share photos of the National Parks on social media, among countless other activities. Overall, it’s about celebrating and taking care of our public lands.

The day is organized by the National Environmental Education Program. Volunteers get involved with the program to restore parks, rivers, and local greenspaces in urban areas, among others. There are so many ways to get involved, from active volunteer work to just enjoying nature. You can visit a National Park for free, check out the NPS website for volunteer opportunities in-park, enjoy the outdoors, or share your environmental experiences on social media. The NPS includes the hashtags #NPLD and #NPSVolunteer for use on Instagram, Twitter, and other social sites.

NPS Turns 100: Best Facts About Our National Parks

August 25th marked the 100th birthday of the NPS, and we put together some cool facts about the parks to celebrate. Did you know the first park preceded the NPS by 44 years? Yellowstone was the first National Park, established in 1872. The National Park Service wasn’t established until 1916.

Additionally, the oldest park isn’t even the biggest. Alaska actually houses the largest park. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is a massive 13.2 million acres. That’s the size of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland put together.

Finally, what’s the most visited park in the US? It has to be Yellowstone, right? The oldest, the OG. Prepare to be surprised, because it’s actually Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Every year, the park sees 10 to 14 million visitors. Last year alone it saw a whopping 16 million people.

For more interesting National Park facts, check out our list. And remember to get outside this September 24, whether it’s at a National Park or just in your backyard.