All 423 National Parks Will Be Free on Aug. 25 — and These Other Five Holidays

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Aug. 20 2021, Published 11:34 a.m. ET

Zion National Park Free Admission
Source: Getty Images

The evening sun lights the Watchman Tower formation at the entrance to Zion National Park on May 14, 2020 in Springdale, Utah

In honor of the National Park Service’s birthday, this Wednesday, the government agency is offering free entrance to every national park across the country.

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This isn’t the only day you can visit national parks for free in 2021 — keep reading for everything you need to know about enjoying the beautiful national parks of the U.S. without spending a cent (except on trail snacks, of course).

Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Getty Images

A Joshua tree stands at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4, 2019 in Joshua Tree National Park, Calif.

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NPS is offering free entrance to national parks for its birthday — and these other holidays.

This Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, people all across the U.S. can visit any of the 423 U.S. national parks (including all trails, monuments, etc.) free of charge. The parks span over 84 million acres, and can be found in all 50 states, as well as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The NPS is offering waived admission in honor of its 105th birthday — specifically, it’s the 105-year anniversary of the day the U.S. Congress created the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916, establishing the new government agency. This isn’t the only day you can visit national parks for free in 2021 — here are all of our best tips for enjoying the beautiful national parks of the U.S. without spending a cent (except on trail snacks, of course).

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In fact, the NPS is celebrating its birthday all month long, and the theme is “Park Scrapbooks.” The NPS is encouraging visitors to make scrapbooks celebrating the parks — but the agency is using the term scrapbook loosely. A scrapbook can refer to any art form, ranging from a traditional scrapbook to poetry to a social media post. You can download the NPS app to create free virtual postcards — and make sure to use the hashtags #ParkScrapbooks, #FindYourPark, and #EncuentraTuParque when sharing your scrapbook on social media.

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"National parks are America's best idea, and there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day," the NPS said in a statement, as per ABC7. "The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The others are free all the time."

In 2021, the NPS offered free admission to all its parks on six days. So far, there was complimentary admission on January 18 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), April 17 (the first day of National Park Week), and August 4 (the one-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act). Following the NPS’ Birthday on Aug. 25, there will be free admission on September 25 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11 (Veterans Day).

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Many national parks are actually free year-round.

Out of the 423 parks, only 108 charge entrance fees (except on the above six holidays), many of which are actual “parks” — including Acadia National Park, Badlands National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Zion National Park. So, if you live near any of the 108 national parks that typically charge an entrance fee, Aug. 25 just may be the perfect day to finally visit.

That said, the remaining 315 national parks (many of which are actually just historic sites, trails, battlefields, and monuments) offer free entrance every day of the year, including Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park, First Ladies National Historic Site, John Muir National Historic Site, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and Virgin Islands National Park.

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