This Sunday, as the National Park Service marks its 103rd birthday, tourists will find themselves on the receiving end of the gift-giving. Visitors can enter any national park for free on Aug. 25 — including parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone, which typically charge $35 per car to enter.
Of the more than 400 parks run by the National Park Service, 115 charge regular entrance fees most days. That includes Grand Canyon in Arizona, Joshua Tree in California, Everglades in Florida, Yellowstone in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, as well as Bryce Canyon in Utah, Mount Rainier in Washington, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan and Acadia in Maine.
Fees typically range from $5 to $35, according to the National Park Service. Here’s a list, by state, of parks that will waive their entrance fees on the designated dates. There are two more free admission days this year: National Public Lands Day on Sept. 28 and Veterans Day on Nov. 11. Here’s a list of all the free days in year.
The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
When honoring the birthday, and during any visit, any day, a reminder to keep the “‘wild” in wildlife by respecting the park’s full-time, four-legged occupants. That was a lesson learned the hard way by the young girl (she’s okay) in this viral video of a hair-raising encounter with a bison from Yellowstone earlier this summer.
For discounted access anytime, the annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks that normally charge an entrance fee.
There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the military, families of fourth-grade students, and disabled citizens.