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Photo: muirtrail68

Free is good. And there’s more later in the year, too.

THANKS TO Jaunted for the tip-off. This year the U.S. National Parks are offering lots of free entrance days. The first ones were held over National Park Week in April, and this weekend — June 5 and 6 — it continues.

For a list of the 100+ parks that are participating, check out this alphabetized list (by state). Reservations, camping, and concessions, however, will not be free. But private partners of the Parks are offering up some attractive discounts during the Fee Free days.

Future Free Entrance Days this year are:

  • August 14 – 15
  • September 25 (Public Lands Day)
  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

Of course “free” does come at a price. No doubt there will be hordes of visitors, especially at the more popular parks.

If you do decide to go (at any time, not just on these days), do me a favour please: Leave the guns at home. But if you must go packing, just try not to shoot any bears.


David Page questions the idea of promoting the parks to draw in more visitors than they can handle. Weigh in at How to Save America’s Parks: Pack ‘Em With People?

Parks + Wilderness


About The Author

Carlo Alcos

Carlo is the Dean of Education at MatadorU and a Managing Editor at Matador. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

  • Hal Amen

    Ooo, I need to get myself down to Big Bend this weekend!

  • David Page

    And we just got official word yesterday that Tioga Pass — the high-altitude east entrance into Yosemite — will be open tomorrow (June 5) at 8 AM. With free entrance into the park!! The bears are out, the waterfalls are cranking, the whole place just stretching and yawning after a long winter’s slumber. Oh and there’s a reggae band at the Gas Mart in Lee Vining on Sunday aft, sure to be a blowout!

  • Carolyn – Bozeman, MT

    In any of the National Parks there are always ways to get away from traffic – just hike in about half an hour. Trust me – I live near Yellowstone. It doesn’t take much effort to be in quiet places. Most visitors never leave their cars.

    The same is true where we just visited – Capitol Reef N.P. – You don’t have to be super fit to walk a mile or so away from the roads.

    Will the Parks be loved to death? Not with careful management. What people do not learn about and know, they will not love and what they do not love they will not take care of .

    • Carlo Alcos

      Absolutely right Carolyn…it was in Yellowstone I coined the term “drive-thru tourist” for that very reason (although I guess it’s possible someone else made that up before me). People just stopped on the side of the road, rolled down their windows, stuck their camera out, snapped a pic, then drove on. Sometimes someone would get out to take a pic, but the others stayed in the car.

I sometimes have to be reminded just how gorgeous my home country is.
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