Throughout 2019, the National Park Service has offered free admission to any national park unit on several “entrance fee free” days — and Monday, November 11 is the final one of the year! The dates have been scattered throughout the year — the anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; the first day of National Park Week (also designated as National Junior Ranger Day); National Public Lands Day; and, this Monday, Veterans Day!
And here’s some good news – entrance fee-free days will be back in 2020! Those dates, detailed in this NPS press release, provide great opportunities to explore your national parks! In addition, special NPS events in your area are posted on a searchable calendar.
You may have read our National Parks – America’s Best Idea post, or you may have seen our link to the national parks we’ve visited, or you may have just noticed that we have a lot of posts about national parks. It’s because we have a goal: to visit all of the 61 US national parks. We’re making progress, too: we’ve visited 50 of them so far! Each park that we’ve been to is spectacular, and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed if you visit one. And you can’t really go wrong with free entry!
Some of the ones left on our list are easily accessible, like Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. But we also have four backcountry parks in Alaska that are going to take a little more effort (and a little more cash!) to get to. But we’re going to do it!
Here are the parks left on our to-visit list:
Gates of the Arctic
Great Smoky Mountains
We highly recommend setting travel goals for yourself and your family. Goals get you motivated and give you a focus. It’s fun to plan and make steps toward a goal as well, and goal setting and taking the steps to complete a goal are great lessons for kids. (And remember, if one of those kids is a fourth grader, your family is eligible for a free one-year national parks pass!)
We realize that setting a goal to visit all 61 national parks might be a little too much for some people, but you can start small. Maybe you could set a goal to visit one new place each year, or to try a new kind of vacation: maybe a home exchange or a camping trip. Or maybe your goal could be to accumulate enough frequent flyer miles to take a trip to your dream destination in five years. Once you’ve got your goal, start taking the steps to make your goals a reality. If you’ve already got a goal, evaluate how well you’re doing on getting there! And please, share your goals in the comments section.
We hope that you get a chance to get out and enjoy a week or a weekend in one of your national parks soon — maybe even for free!