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When to Visit US National Parks for Free in 2018

United States National Parks
by Henry Miller Feb 23, 2018

With the Trump Administration’s minimal appreciation for the National Park system, you may not be surprised to learn that it will not be so cheap to visit your favorite park in 2018.

At the beginning of the year, the National Park Service (NPS) announced that there would be only four free-access days this year, compared to 10 last year and 16 in 2016. One of them, Martin Luther King Day, has already passed.

This is what remains:

  • April 21st, the first day of National Park Week
  • September 22nd, National Public Lands Day
  • November 11th, Veterans Day

Unfortunately free-access means just that. You will be allowed in to parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Everglades, and Shenandoah for free on these days, but you might still have to pay for parking and other services.

On top of the limited number of free-access days, the NPS announced last year that 2018 could see substantial hikes in entrance fees for many of its most beloved sites.

If you are looking to visit multiple parks year, you might want to consider purchasing the $80 annual pass to save some cash. Seniors can get the same pass for $20, while 4th graders can claim free passes for themselves and their family until August 31st. Serving members in the US military can also claim a free annual pass.

Despite public outcry after Trump announced drastic reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument, his administration has not given up on changing the way America treats its public lands. The President’s 2019 budget suggests funding the NPS’s maintenance backlog as well as his proposed infrastructure bill by deregulating oil and gas extraction on public lands, including National Parks.

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