For those who don’t already know, 2016 marks the 100th year of the National Park Service. To celebrate the anniversary of America’s Best idea, the National Park Service is offering 16 fee free entry days to our National Parks.  While some will complain that our parks should always be free, we here at The Outdoor Society understand budgets and the problems of bureaucracy, and applaud the National Park Service for adding seven more free days than in 2015. The fee free days also extend to National Monuments, National Refuges, Forest Service land and more. 

There are 409 available areas that are under the umbrella of the National Park Service, and they are open to everyone, every day. The fee-free days provide access to one of America’s 127 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. Keep in mind that the free entry only covers entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees in the park, like reservations, camp sites, park led tours tours, and concession are not included unless stated otherwise. Basically, it is free to enter the parks, but anything else will still cost you.

“Fee-free days provide an extra incentive to visit a national park, especially during next year’s centennial celebration. We added extra fee-free days so that everyone has a chance to join the party. With locations in every state, finding a national park is easy. The hard part might be deciding which ones to visit.” ~ NPS Director Jon B. Jarvis.

Remember that in 2016, any fourth grade student can get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program, and that all active duty military and citizens with a permanent disability can a get free pass as well. If you would like to learn more about this, please visit the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass page.

What are the Fee Free Dates?

The 16  fee-free days for 2016, the National Park Service’s centennial year are:

January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

April 16 through 24 – National Park Week

August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday (and following weekend)

September 24 – National Public Lands Day

November 11 – Veterans Day

Park Ranger speaking to visitors at St. Mary Falls. Photo David Restivo, NPS
Park Ranger speaking to visitors at St. Mary Falls. Photo David Restivo, NPS