hiking in Acadia National Park

Visit a National Park for Free!

This post was updated Oct. 31, 2021

Did you know there are six days each year when you can visit national parks for free?

Just one freebie day remains in 2021 – November 11, Veteran’s Day.

If you’d like to take advantage, here are some quick tips you may find helpful:

Finding a national park to visit

About a quarter of the 423 national parks charge admission. Here is a complete list of the entrance fees.

And here’s a park finder you can use to search by state.

Many sites with the national park designation aren’t traditional parks, like New Orleans Jazz Historic National Park, the Edgar Allan Poe House National Historic Site Nation in Philadelphia and Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay.

Here’s a list of national parks that aren’t parks, per se, but have been given the special designation – which means they are free, too! 🙂 But, some may still be closed due to COVID; be sure to check their websites or call ahead.

To make searching easier, and to give you a feel for what’s out there, get this highly rated guide, with pictures, tips, and suggested itineraries.

Camping in a national park

If you’re looking to camp in a national park, you have 130 parks to choose from. Here’s a map of parks with campgrounds that shows you where they are.

National parks are some of the most sought-after camping destinations, making it hard to get a reservation. But don’t give up if at first you don’t succeed!

You can use a campsite finder like Campnab to help you score a reservation. My review of campsite trackers has more finders you can use.

RVing is a popular way to visit national parks. Did you know you can have an RV delivered right to a park? Many rentals near national parks on Outdoorsy, RV Share and RVezy offer this service.

Campervans are great touring vehicles. They are easier to maneuver, park, and less expensive to drive than RVs, and you can camp in more spots because you won’t have to worry about size limitations.

My guide to renting a campervan shows you how to quickly find the vans available for rent in your area of choice.

If you’re new to camping, check out my Camping 101 article for a list of what to bring, planning tips and a free checklist.

If you don’t make it this year, you can always plan ahead for next year. Most campsites in national parks will let you book six months in advance.

List of free entrance days to national parks

  • January 18: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • April 17: First day of National Park Week.
  • August 4: One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday.
  • September 25: National Public Lands Day.
  • November 11: Veterans Day.

Advertising Disclosure: recommendations in this article contain links that may pay me a small commission, at no cost to you, when clicked. As always, thank you for your support.

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