All U.S. National Parks free to enter on Friday

August 3, 2023

Entry fees at all U.S. National Parks will be free on Friday to mark the third anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). 

The GAOA was passed in 2020, clearing the way for expanded recreation and infrastructure improvements within U.S. public lands including the National Park System.

The National Park System is made up of 423 national park sites, though only 63 of them have the designation “National Park” in their names. 

The other sites fall within various categories, including National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores and National Recreation Areas.

The seeds of the National Park System go back to the 19th century, when Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” in 1872. However, it was President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916 who signed an act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior. Just 35 parks initially fell under its designation.

Friday is one of five days this year where the entry fees into National Parks will be waived. It’s the first since April 22, which had marked the start of National Park Week.

The waived fee does not cover all amenities inside any park, which can include camping, boating and tours.

On most days National Parks charge an entry fee that can range from $5 per person to $35 per vehicle. The National Park Service also sells an annual pass for $80 which can be purchased here.

PHOTO: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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