The National Park Service has announced their 2021 free park dates and it’s time to start making your travel plans. Since pandemic activities have kept us mostly indoors for much of 2020, making a getaway to the great outdoors might be the perfect plan for your new, less-restricted year. (I’ve been taking walks around the same twenty blocks since March, so a change would be nice.)
Seeing the geyser at Yellowstone or taking in breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon are definitely bucket-list worthy endeavors, and since there are over 400 national parks in the United States and U.S. territories to choose from, it’s easy to plan a nearby day trip or weekend getaway.
Entrance to national parks can cost anywhere from $5 per person to $35 per vehicle, but planning around the free admission dates can help save money. Here are 2021’s free park dates:
- January 18: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 17: First day of National Park Week
- August 4: One-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- August 25: National Park Service’s 105th Birthday
- September 25: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Visitors can search by county or state by using the Explore Parks tab on the National Park Service website. I was able to find sites I never knew were national parks right outside my door. It’s an easy way to find daytime activities just minutes away, or plan ahead for a long road trip.
Some national parks are vast and wide—the Everglades stretch over 1.5 million acres and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, and the largest national park in the U.S. is a massive 13.2 million acres—so needless to say, some parks cannot be explored in one day. If you want to see all the sites and save money, America The Beautiful passes offer discounts and package deals for park visitors. Passes range from $80 annual passes to free 4th grader passes, and can be purchased through designated federal recreation sites.