Mark your calendars — on Saturday, April 17th, the first day of National Park Week 2021, the National Park Service is offering free admission to any national park unit! Additional dates are scattered throughout the year — the anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service, Veterans Day, National Public Lands Day, the first day of National Parks Week (also designated as National Junior Ranger Day), and, in 2021, the one year anniversary of the passing of the Great American Outdoors Act.
All of 2021’s entrance fee-free dates are detailed in this press release. What great opportunities to explore your national parks! In addition, special NPS events in your area are posted on a searchable calendar.
Here’s a quick look at the remaining entrance fee-free dates for 2021:
- Saturday, April 17 – First Day of National Park Week / National Junior Ranger Day
- Wednesday, August 4 – One Year Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- Wednesday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
- Saturday, September 25 – National Public Lands Day
- Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day
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 63 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:
Gateway Arch (despite some controversy about its new status)
Gates of the Arctic
Great Smoky Mountains
New River Gorge (America’s newest!)
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.
We realize that setting a goal to visit all 63 national parks might be a little too much for some people, but you can start small. Try setting a goal to visit one new place each year, or 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, but be sure to stay close to home and do so safely!