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Want to visit a U.S. National Park? All the free-entrance days of 2020

MLK Day is upon us

Steep rock outcroppings are viewed from the Mount Carmel Highway tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah.
Steep rock outcroppings are viewed from the Mount Carmel Highway tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah. (Getty Images)

Regardless of whether you’re aiming to visit one U.S. national park this year or your bucket list includes 10 of them, we have good news: One of the first free-entrance days is coming up.

On Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all national parks will waive entrance fees.

The other four dates for 2020 are:

  • Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
  • Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
  • Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day
  • Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day

The National Park Service released those dates in November 2019.

There are 419 National Park Service sites, and of those, 110 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35, the NPS said.

The other 309 national parks don’t have entrance fees at all.

Just be aware, the entrance-fee waiver for the free days don’t cover amenity or user fees for things like camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the parks, you can buy an annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks.

There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, active duty members of the U.S. military, families of fourth-grade students and people with disabilities.

Think it’s not the right time of year to visit the parks? Nonsense. We love this feature from Thrillist about all the best parks to visit this winter.


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