April 16, 2022, kicks off a full slate of activities celebrating America’s crown jewels.

Steep drop into Grand Canyon with snow storms moving in in the distance

J.D. Simkins

Is there any better way to kick off National Park Week than with a free visit to any of America’s 63 treasured destinations? (We submit no!)

As part of the Park Service’s initiative, all 423 parks, monuments, and sites will be available to visit free of charge on Saturday, April 16. The promotion marks the first day of a full week of activities, ending April 24, that focus on conservation, volunteer opportunities, artistic expression, technical innovations, and more.

“We encourage everyone to discover their national parks and the benefits that come from spending time outdoors,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in a release. “National parks are for everyone and we are committed to increasing access and providing opportunities for all to experience the sense of wonder, awe, and refreshment that comes with a visit to these treasured landscapes and sites.”

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Fee waivers do not include costs associated with camping, boating, shuttles, tours, and other activities, but if you do plan on taking advantage of the promotion, be sure to plan well in advance. Numerous national parks have incorporated entry reservation systems to compensate for soaring visitor numbers, with officials citing “congestion and crowding that can negatively impact public safety, visitor experiences, and park resources.”

To maximize your trip, meanwhile, try out the free National Park Service app, an interactive service that consolidates up-to-date information on hiking trails, lodging, news alerts, dining options, and more. Download the app for free on Apple and Google Play, and if you can’t make it to a park on April 16, consider planning a visit on any of this year’s remaining free entrance days:

  • Aug. 4 — Celebrating the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • Sept. 24 — National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

Park visitors throughout National Park Week are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtags #NationalParkWeek and #sParkConnections. For those interested in Park Service perks beyond National Park Week, there are select criteria that allow for free or discounted entry throughout the year.

Veterans with any disability percentage remain entitled to a lifetime access pass free of charge, which can be acquired on the spot at any federal recreation area where passes are issued by presenting a 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.

Information on annual and lifetime passes, including discounted rates for seniors, active-duty military, elementary school students, and Park Service volunteers can be accessed here.

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