Eager to get outside this weekend? Here’s when you can visit a national park for free

National Park Service sites will be free to visit Saturday for National Public Lands Day.

National Park Service sites will be free to visit Saturday for National Public Lands Day.


National parks across the country will be free to visitors on two days the rest of the year — and one is this weekend.

Many National Park Service sites will waive their entrance fees Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

“Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is traditionally the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort,” the National Park Service said on its website. “It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community.”

About 100 National Park Service sites charge entrance fees that range from $5 to $35. Six days a year, visitors won’t be charged a fee.

“The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the national parks that normally charge an entrance fee,” park rangers said.

In 2020, many parks temporarily shut their gates to visitors to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Even with that closure, more than 237 million people visited the country’s national parks.

This year, more people than ever have been visiting the most popular national parks. Several parks have consistently shattered visitation records from month to month.

The final free-entrance day in 2021 will be in November for Veterans Day.

“Throughout the country, every national park provides a variety of opportunities to get out in nature, connect with our common heritage and experience the vast array of benefits that come from spending time outdoors,” Margaret Everson, counselor to the secretary, said in a news release. “Hopefully the fee-free days will encourage everyone to spend some time in their national parks.”

Maddie Capron is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter focused on the outdoors and wildlife in the western U.S. She graduated from Ohio University and previously worked at CNN, the Idaho Statesman and Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism.

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