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5 Days of Free Entrance to National Parks

Feeling a bit cooped up this winter? Maybe you’re longing for fresh mountain air, the feel of grass between your toes or the smell of s’mores roasting on a campfire. Chase away cabin fever with free admission to our nation’s parks on special days in 2020.

This year, the National Park Service (NPS) will continue its tradition of waiving entrance fees to national parks on certain days.

The five free entrance days for 2020 are:

January 20 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 18 – the first day of National Park Week
August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
September 28 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans’ Day

The Park Service is comprised of 419 locations, including national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails and the White House.

Many of the 419 do not charge entrance fees at any time. The 110 that do normally charge an entrance fee waive the cost on the Park Service’s fee-free days.

To find the national park location nearest to you, visit the Park Service’s Find a Park page.

Other ways to save
If you’re not able to take advantage of the free entrance days, there are other ways you can save money at our nation’s parks year-round.

Annual pass
If you visit parks often, consider purchasing an annual pass.

The annual pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person).

The cost of the annual pass is $80.

Kids visit free
If you have children, the admission fee in 2020 to all national parks will continue to be free for children ages 15 and under. There is also an annual 4th Grade Pass. Admission for fourth-grade students with a valid “Every Kids Outdoors” paper pass is free.

Other types of passes
You can save on the following types of passes as well:

Military Pass – A free pass for current U.S. Military members and their dependents.
Senior Pass – For U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 62 and over, a lifetime pass costs $80 and an annual pass is $20.
Access Pass – A free pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
Volunteer Pass – A free pass for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.

You can buy park passes at these locations. You can also purchase passes online.

Planning your visit
If you’re looking for ideas on how to plan your next trip to a national park, check out the Plan Your Trip page on the NPS website. You can search for things to do and find trip ideas by park, activity, topic, duration and more.

You can also plan your trip around a specific park event that’s of interest to you and your family. View the monthly park events calendar.

Up for a Day Trip?
If you live local, check out these nearby National Park Service locations.

Maryland
Antietam National Battlefield (Sharpsburg)
Assateague National Seashore
Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont)
C & O Canal
Clara Barton National Historic Site (Glen Echo)
Fort McHenry (Baltimore)
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad (Cambridge)
Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm (Oxon Hill)

Find more Park Services locations in Maryland.

Virginia
Appomattox Courthouse (Appomattox)
Cape Henry Memorial (Fort Story)
Colonial Jamestown
Colonial Williamsburg
George Washington Birthplace (Westmoreland County)
Great Falls (McLean)
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (Vienna)
Yorktown Battlefield (Yorktown)

Find more Park Services locations in Virginia.

Washington, D.C.
African American Civil War Memorial
Ford’s Theatre
Frederick Douglass House
Lincoln Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
President’s Park (White House)
Washington Monument

Find more Park Services locations in Washington, D.C.

Admission is free for Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.

Resources: National Park Service, Money Talk News