The National Park Service has long encouraged visitors to avoid peak crowds by planning their trips in the spring. And to give you even more impetus, here’s another good reason to visit this month: free admission.
For four days in April, 2017 — April 15, 16, 22 and 23 — the National Park Service will waive entrance fees at the 118 national parks that normally charge visitors. The fee-free days are all part of National Park Week, which is celebrated from April 15 to 23. In total, 10 free days are offered in 2017. After April, the other fee-free days are Aug. 25, Sept. 30, and Nov. 11 and 12.
Entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees are all included in the fee waiver. Other charges, such as those for camping, tours and concessions collected by third parties, are generally not included. Park officials say the fee-free days are designed to make sites accessible to a broader group of people.
But if the dates don’t work for you, there are plenty of other ways to save when visiting any of the 417 areas that make up the parks system. An annual pass to the country’s national parks costs only about $80. And U.S. residents age 62 and older can obtain a lifetime senior pass for only $10. Those with disabilities and members of the military (and military families) can get annual passes for free.
In addition to the highly popular sites such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of lesser-known parks to check out including Congaree in South Carolina, Dry Tortugas in Florida, and North Cascades in Washington.