The US National Parks include some of the most beautiful and extraordinary natural wonders in the entire world, such as Grand Canyon National Park. Access to most parks requires an entrance fee, but luckily there are a handful of ways to get in for free. Here are 4 ways to get a free National Parks pass, plus how you can get in for free if you don’t qualify for a free pass.
US citizens and permanent residents that have a permanent disability are eligible for a free annual pass.
Passes can be obtained at federal parks that have an entrance fee. You can also apply for an Access Pass through the mail, but there is a $10 processing fee.
US National Parks Annual Passes for Military
Current members of any branch of the US military and their dependents are eligible for an annual pass free of charge. Unfortunately veterans are not eligible for this pass.
To get the pass, show your military ID card at any federal park that has an entrance fee to have your pass processed. If you’re a dependent of a current military service member, you’ll need DoD Form 1173.
NPS Every Kid in a Park Pass
U.S. children in 4th grade (or age 10 if homeschooled) are eligible for a free annual pass. These passes are good from September through August of the year you get them.
Passes can be earned by completing an adventure diary on the NPS’ Every Kid in a Park website. Educators, which includes teaches and leaders of educational organizations such as youth groups or summer camps, can also help in students obtaining passes by completing 4 NPS designed activities.
National Parks Volunteer Pass
If you 250 volunteer hours with an agency or organization that participates in the Interagency Pass Program, you are eligible for the Volunteer Pass.
Agencies that you can volunteer for include most state and federal parks, as well as a handful of governmental departments like the Department of Veteran Affairs. To find specific opportunities, visit volunteer.gov.
Free Entrance Days at US National Parks
If you don’t qualify for a free National Parks pass, don’t worry – there are several days each year that parks that require a fee are open to the public free of charge.
Typically the free entrance days coincide with holidays or special celebrations. In 2018, the free entrance days include:
- January 15, 2018 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 21, 2018 – The first day of National Park Week
- September 22, 2018: National Public Lands Day
- November 11, 2018: Veterans Day
Where will you go with a free National Parks pass?