​The USA’s national parks are where you’ll find some of the country’s most incredible adventures ⁠— and for six days this year, all of them will be free to enter.

There are more than 400 National Park Service (NPS) sites across the US, with representation in each state and territory and the District of Columbia. While the vast majority of these sites are free year-round, many of the most famous national parks in the country — including popular destinations like Yosemite and Joshua Tree — charge an entrance fee. For example, the per-vehicle cost to enter Yosemite is $35 for a seven-day pass, while it's $20 per person (over the age of 16) when entering by foot, bike or horse.  

A woman hiker stands in front of a stone arch in a US national park.
Enter Arches National Park for free on six days in 2024 © Getty Images

There are just six days in 2024 when the NPS makes its protected lands free for all to enter, so put these dates in your calendar when planning your adventures. 

The National Park Service's 2024 free dates

  • January 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 20: First day of National Park Week
  • June 19: Juneteenth 
  • August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • September 28: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Do I need to make a reservation?

High visitor numbers in US national parks have led to some issues in overcrowding, trail erosion, trash and vandalism, long queues, and traffic jams. In response, many popular parks have introduced reservation and timed entry systems to manage crowds. For example, Yosemite will require travelers to have a reservation to visit the park on many days this year, particularly in February — as the Horsetail Fall 'firefall' phenomenon draws in eager visitors — and again at certain times between April in October. Arches National Park will require travelers to book a timed-entry reservation for visits between April and the end of October, which will be available three months in advance and released in blocks at the start of each month. Always check the NPS website for important information on any park you may be visiting. 

Since many parks are likely to be busier on fee-free days, why not try some lesser-visited alternatives to take the heat off the most popular national parks?

For more information on national parks around the USA, visit nps.gov.

This article was first published December 2020 and updated January 2024

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