The United States has 408 national parks, 127 of which charge an entrance fee. But, with a little advance planning, you can visit any of the parks for free!
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Free Entrance Days in National Parks
Anyone can visit national parks for free on these days:
- September 26, 2015: National Public Lands Day
- November 11, 2015: Veterans Day
- January 18, 2016: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- April 16-24, 2016: National Park Week
- August 25-28, 2016: National Park Service Birthday
- September 24, 2016: National Public Lands Day
- November 11, 2016: Veterans Day
Check out the list of more than 100 participating parks, including these four in Texas:
- Big Bend National Park
- Fort Davis National Historic Site
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- Padre Island National Seashore
For more information, visit the National Park Service website.
Those who qualify can also get a free pass to visit national parks any day of the year:
Every Kid in a Park Annual 4th Grade Pass
Have a child in 4th grade? Every U.S. 4th grader (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age) can visit the Every Kid in a Park website, complete a web based activity, and be awarded a voucher package for printing. Once your 4th grader arrives at a participating Federal recreation site, they may exchange their Every Kid in a Park voucher for the Annual 4th Grade Pass. Please contact the Federal land you will be visiting in advance to ensure that they have the Pass available.
The Pass is valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year through the following summer (September – August). You must have a paper voucher printed from the Every Kid in a Park website to obtain the Annual 4th Grade Pass. Digital versions of the voucher (such as smart phones or tablets) will not be accepted. The Pass covers entrance to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge entrance fees, and standard amenity fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers sites. The Pass admits the pass owner and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at a per vehicle fee area, or the pass owner and up to three adults at sites that charge per person.
For more information, visit the Every Kid in a Park website.
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for Current Military
Current US military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as most members of the US Reserves and National Guard, can get a free parks pass. You can receive your pass by presenting your current US military ID at most Federal lands that charge an entrance fee. A list of sites that issue passes is available. Sites that issue the Annual Pass will generally also issue the free US military version as well. Please contact the Federal Land you will be visiting in advance to ensure that they have the pass available. Proper military ID is required (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173).
For more information, click here.
Free Lifetime Access Pass for Americans with a Permanent Disability
A free, lifetime pass is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. The Pass provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies.
For more information, click here.