Whether taking advantage of a free day or visiting any other, planning well in advance would be wise.

Visit Any National Park for Free in 2022 on These Days

J.D. Simkins

Great Sand Dunes National Park
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Fans of national parks and monuments will be treated to five free entrance days in 2022 at some of our nation’s most awe-inspiring destinations.

The promotion will waive entry fees for all visitors, some of which range up to $35 per vehicle at the most oft-visited locations. The free admission policy will not cover fees related to camping, boating, shuttles, tours, and other activities.

“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 the Dec. 28 announcement. “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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Whether taking advantage of a freebie or visiting any other day, planning well in advance would be wise. Numerous national parks have incorporated entry reservation systems to compensate for soaring visitor numbers. Utah’s Arches National Park, for example, became the latest to implement reservations, with officials citing “congestion and crowding that can negatively impact public safety, visitor experiences, and park resources.”

The new system at Arches, which will be in effect for six months beginning April 3, mirrors those implemented during the summer by Glacier, Zion, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Acadia, and Haleakalā national parks, all destinations that saw previous attendance records obliterated as COVID-19 vaccinations became readily available.

Overcrowding and reservations aside, a terrific tool to ensure you’re sufficiently planning for that next visit is the National Park Service app, which streamlines the experience at any of the nation’s 423 NPS locations by consolidating information on hiking trails, lodging, news alerts, dining options, and more. Download the app for free on Apple and Android or consult with the National Park Service website to plan ahead so you can enjoy the following days of complimentary admission:

  • Jan. 17 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 16 — National Park Week kicks off
  • 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

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.

Additionally, veterans with any percentage disability remain entitled to a lifetime access pass—good for more than 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 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.