Ian Shive

Just plan well in advance to accommodate any unforeseen circumstances relating to COVID-19.

J.D. Simkins  – January 5, 2021 | Updated January 8, 2021

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Fans of national parks and monuments will have six select days to enjoy some of our nation’s best sights completely free of charge.

The promotion, announced recently by the National Park Service, will waive entry fees, some of which can range up to $35 per vehicle at the most oft-visited destinations, for all visitors.

Of course, it would be wise to plan well in advance to accommodate any unforeseen circumstances that may or may not arise due to measures implemented to stifle the spread of COVID-19.

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In California, for example, an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom in December to issue a stay-at-home order for the state’s southern and central regions, a measure that spurred modifications to the accessibility of many of the state’s nine national parks.

Popular destinations like Yosemite and Joshua Tree national parks shuttered campgrounds, altered visitor center hours, and limited admission to day use only, measures that continue to evolve seemingly by the day.

As for the days of complementary admission, parks are free to the public—barring further amendments—on the following days.

  • January 18 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 17 — National Park Week kicks off
  • August 4 — Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • August 25 — Celebrating 105 years since the inception of the National Park Service
  • September 25 — National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 — Veterans Day

Information on annual and lifetime passes, including discounted senior rates, can be accessed here.

Additionally, veterans with any percentage disability remain entitled to a lifetime access pass—good for over 400 NPS sites and 2,000 recreation sites nationwide—free of charge. Vets can receive the lifetime pass on the spot at any federal recreation area where passes are issued simply by presenting any form of government-issued identification (driver’s license, state ID, passport, birth certificate) alongside documentation of a service-connected disability. Passes can also be acquired online for a $10 processing fee.


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