national parkIn 1872 U.S. President Ulyssess S. Grant signed the act establishing Yellowstone as, not only our first national park, but the first national park in the world. Today more than 100 countries contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves. notes that  today “there are over 400 national park sites—including historic sites, monuments, and recreation areas—in the United States, most of which are free to visit. But many of the most popular…national parks, such as Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, charge an entrance fee. Visiting one of these will generally set you back $10–$20 per person or $35 per vehicle (and allow you to come and go for seven days from purchase). Depending on how many people are in your family and how many parks you visit, this can add up.”

However, with a bit of careful planning you can take advantage of six days in the next 12 months when admission to all U.S. national parks is free for everyone. Here are the dates:


  • April 20 (Saturday): First day of National Park Week
  • June 19 (Wednesday): Juneteenth
  • August. 4 (Sunday): Great American Outdoors Day
  • September 28 (Saturday): National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 (Monday): Veterans Day


  • January 20 (Monday): Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

If these dates don’t work for your schedule, you may still qualify for free or reduced-fee entry good for any day. Active-duty military members (and their dependents), Veterans,  people with disabilities, and fourth-grade students are all eligible for the free America the Beautiful passes, which are accepted at every national park. “A pass covers the passholder and all occupants in a personal vehicle at sites that charge per vehicle or, the passholder and up to three additional adults (16 and over) at sites that charge per person,” the National Park Service says on its website. Children ages 15 or under are also admitted free. Everyone who is 62 years of age and older can buy an annual America the Beautiful pass for $20 or a lifetime pass for $80.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska