Free Entrance to National Parks in 2018

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This is incredibly useful and is going to save me some money! It tells you how to get into national parks for free--in the US and Canada.

Over four hundred of America’s national parks are free everyday.  But 118 of them aren’t.  Luckily, the park system does offer free days, so you can go enjoy our beautiful country while remaining completely and totally frugal.

National Park Free Entrance Days for 2018

In 2018, there are a severely stunted number of free days compared to years past. So if you want to get in on one of them, you’re going to have to plan a little more carefully.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Fees will be waived on January 15, 2018 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

First Day of National Park Week

Last year, there were five free days in the month of April recognizing National Park Week. This year, you’ll only get in for free on the first day of the celebration: April 21, 2018.

National Public Lands Day

Admission will be free on September 22, 2018 in honor of National Public Lands Day.

Veterans Day

Last year you got two free days for this holiday, but this year you only get one. You can get into national parks for free in celebration of Veterans Day on November 11, 2018.

Which National Parks require an entrance fee?

I’ve been lucky to travel a good bit in my time. National parks always bring such a sense of awe and wonder. It’s one thing to wander around in the wood in your backyard. It’s a completely different thing to spend time in pristine, protected wilderness.

Some of my favorites national parks that will be waiving their fees on free days are:

There’s a ton of others, too. I was surprised to find the ones in my own back yard that I never knew existed. To find some near you, you can check out the National Park Service’s website.

Free Entry to National Parks Year Round

If you fall into any of the following demographics, you can get a free national park pass. You only need on per vehicle to get into the park, so if anyone in your family falls into one of these categories, you could theoretically get the entire clan in for free.

  • You are a US citizen with a documented disability.
  • You are a 4th grader. Eligibility starts on your first day of fourth grade and ends on your first day of fifth grade.
  • You are a member of the military or a military dependent.

You can learn more about each of these programs here.

Free National Park Admission in Canada

Last year Canada was giving away free national park passes in honor of their nation’s 150th birthday. That program has ended, but there are still a couple ways to get in for free.

The first is via a Cultural Access Pass. These are reserved for those who have become Canadian citizens in the past year.

A new program that has been rolled out for 2018 allows anyone under 17 years of age into national parks for free. Find out more about the new youth program here.


We’d love to hear about your national park experiences! Tell us about them in the comments section.

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11 thoughts on “Free Entrance to National Parks in 2018

  1. Lindy Mint

    This is great to know. You’re right, it is amazing how many national parks exist in our back yards. I know there are several places in my own state I’ve never explored.

  2. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    For the last couple years our provincial government was allowing free entry into the parks. It was awesome. It got a lot more people out and enjoying them. It’s a shame it’s ending.

    Thanks for the tips. I will remember this next time I am in the US.

  3. femmefrugality

    @Lindy…I know. I was so surprised when I checked out that list. Love being a tourist in my own town when I start to get a little bit of wanderlust.
    @Miss T–That’s so great! Fee-free days that last for years? Canada is awesome. To be honest, I’ve never paid a fee in Acadia before, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t activities that require it. It may also be because we’re always visiting family when we’re up there…maybe they cover stuff that I’m not aware of.
    @Elle–Me too! Old Faithful’s sulfur made me sick, but it was totally worth seeing. Went back country backpacking, too.
    @Miss Caitlin– They do! Crater Lake National Park and Lewis and Clark National Historical Park are both included. You can see them throughout the whole country if you click on the national park link above.

  4. Miss Mazuma

    Thabks for compiling this list of dates! Makes me want to get in the car and go go go!! I was hoping to take advantage of Canadas free entry this year but it doesn’t look like this summer will be a good time. Thank goodness there are other options. 🙂

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  6. JoeHx

    My wife and I love nature & hiking (especially with the dogs, but I’m not sure they can come with us to National Parks). Thanks for this info!

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