Just 4 Days for Free National Park Admission in 2018

The National Park Service is scaling back on freebies, but you can still use these tips to save money at America's beloved public lands.

Just 4 Days for Free National Park Admission in 2018 Photo by Maridav / Shutterstock.com

Go mark the National Park Service’s fee-free days on your 2018 calendar now so you don’t miss them. They will fly by.

The Park Service will waive entrance fees on four days. That is down from 10 days in 2017 and 16 days in 2016.

The admission fee-free days for 2018 will be:

  • Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 21 – The first day of National Park Week
  • Sept. 22 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

The National Park Service comprises 417 places. They include national parks as well as other types of sites — national monuments, battlefields and seashores, for example. To find the park nearest to you, visit the Park Service’s “” page.

Most of the 417 sites do not charge entrance fees at any time. The 118 that do charge admission waive that cost on the entrance fee-free days.

National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds says in the announcement:

“The days that we designate as fee-free for national parks mark opportunities for the public to participate in service projects, enjoy ranger-led programs, or just spend time with family and friends exploring these diverse and special places. We hope that these fee-free days offer visitors an extra incentive to enjoy their national parks in 2018.”

Other types of fees, such as those for camping or special tours, still apply on free-entrance days.

The Park Service’s announcement did not explain why the number of fee-free days was reduced by 60 percent.

Save money at national parks

Even with fewer entrance fee-free days and the possibility of peak-season entrance fee hikes, you can still save money at national parks in the new year. Several discounts will remain in place.

For example, the cost of the annual pass that provides entrance to all federal lands will remain $80.

Admission to all parks will also continue to be free for children ages 15 and younger, as well as holders of the following types of passes:

  • — which costs $80 for the lifetime version and $20 for the annual version
  • — a free pass for current U.S. military members and their dependents
  • — a free pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities
  • — a free pass for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program
  • — a free pass for fourth-graders

What’s your take on the cutback to the number of fee-free days at national parks in 2018? Sound off by commenting below or over on

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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