National Parks Add Free Entry Days In 2024

Two years ago I quit my corporate job because I wanted more flexibility to travel full-time and explore the United States National Parks. So far I’ve been to 17 National Parks. One of my favorite things about the National Parks Service is the free entry days they offer a few times each year.

In 2024, National Parks are adding a free entry day that was not previously included. That’s right! Instead of 5 free entry days there will be 6 throughout 2024.

As part of an on-going effort to promote public access to our beautiful National Parks, the National Park Service has released the dates in 2024 when we can visit our National Parks without paying an entry fee.

I have plans to visit several National Parks in 2024, including a return trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. There are very few ways, in my opinion, to improve upon our great parks, but free days definitely sweetens the deal!

When Are The Free National Park Entry Days In 2024?

Like in past years, National Park free days in 2024 will include the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr (third Monday in January), the first day of National Park week (late April), the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (August 4), National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September), and Veterans Day (November 11).

Unlike in past years, National Parks have added a new free day in 2024. 

On June 19th all National Parks which charge an entry fee will be free to enter in celebration of Juneteenth National Independence Day.

Glacier National Park Free National Parks Days 2024
Me hiking in Glacier National Park

National Park Day – 2024

The following dates offer free National Park entrance:

  • January 15: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • April 20: First day of National Park Week
  • June 19: Juneteenth National Independence Day
  • August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • September 28: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day
Bryce Canyon Free National Parks Days 2024
Me hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park

Birthday Of Martin Luther King, Jr

The third Monday of January is a day to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to free entry to National Parks there are also many opportunities to volunteer and give back to our parks.

National Park Week

Every year National Park Week is kicked off with a free National Park day. National Park Week is an annual event across United States National Parks that is dedicated to highlighting and appreciating the vast network of National Parks and historic sites across the country. Each day of National Park Week has a different theme, including focuses like Junior Ranger Day, Earth Day, and Free Entrance day.

Juneteenth National Independence Day

Juneteenth National Independence Day, also known simply as Juneteenth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the end of slavery. It is observed annually on June 19th and has significant historical and cultural importance.

While Juneteenth celebrates the date when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from the slavery system in the United State, it was not officially signed into law as a national holiday until 2021.

Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act was passed in 2020 as a way to provide more funding and better access to our National Parks. Through passing this act the government was able to secure permanent funding for land and water conservation.

National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day is traditionally the country’s largest public service day, bringing volunteers out for conservation and restoration of public lands. If you’re interested in volunteering you can check out the list of event and volunteer opportunities on the NPS calendar.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11th. It is a day dedicated to honoring and recognizing American veterans of all wars. 

Free National Park Entrance For Veterans

As a way to honor and show appreciation for current US military members and their dependents, Gold Star Families, and US military veterans, the US National Parks offer free admission.

A free lifetime Military Pass is available for any Gold Star Family or US military veterans.

A free annual Military Pass is available for any current US military member and their dependents.

Arches Free National Parks Days 2024
Hiking at sunrise in Arches National Park

America The Beautiful Park Pass

What about the other 359 days in the year when the National Parks aren’t free? If you plan to visit the National Parks 3 or more times per year the America The Beautiful parks pass could save you money. Most parks cost between $30-$35 per visit (visits are up to 7 consecutive days) and the annual park pass is $80 (and good for 12 months after your purchase date).

I visit National Parks so frequently that having the America The Beautiful pass saves me a lot of money each year. It also makes it incredibly easy to enter the parks. While it doesn’t allow you to skip the line, it does expedite your time at the gate. For example, I still had to wait in the line to get into Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, but once I got up to the tollgates I was waived right through because of my park pass – no transaction needed. I hope that for some of the major parks that get really backed up they’ll start to implement a quick lane for pass holders.

When Is National Park Week 2024?

If you’re excited about free national park days, let me tell you about National Park Week! It’s an entire week (well, it’s actually 9 whole days!) dedicated to celebrating the national parks! The first day, April 20th, is a free national park day in 2024. After that the following 8 days have fun unique themes in an effort to encourage the public to visit their favorite national parks.

National Park Week in 2024 will be from April 20 to April 28.

sunrise at canyonlands national park Free National Parks Days 2024
Watching sunrise in Canyonlands National Park

Why Are There Free National Park Days?

The National Park Service (NPS) offers free entry days each year for several reasons:

1. Promote Public Access: Free days encourage people from all backgrounds and economic situations to visit and enjoy national parks. This initiative supports the idea that national parks are for everyone.

2. Education and Awareness: By providing free access, the NPS aims to educate the public about the country’s natural and historical treasures, fostering a sense of stewardship and appreciation for these resources.

3. Celebrate Significant Events: Free days often coincide with important dates and anniversaries, such as National Public Lands Day or the National Park Service’s birthday, to celebrate and raise awareness about the importance of these landmarks.

4. Boost Local Economies: Increased visitation on free days can benefit the local economies surrounding the parks. Visitors often spend money in nearby communities on lodging, dining, and other travel-related expenses.

5. Encourage Healthy Lifestyles: By providing free access to parks, the NPS encourages people to engage in outdoor activities, promoting physical health and well-being.

6. Foster Community and Family Bonding: Free entry days provide an affordable opportunity for families and communities to spend time together, enjoying and exploring the natural world.

These free days align with the National Park Service’s mission to preserve natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. They are an invitation for more people to experience and connect with these unique places.

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