It is the beginning of a new year; this time a new decade! That means it is time for you to think about your travel plans for the year, including plans to visit national park units. You may want to take advantage of the days when entrance is free.
At the time of this writing, there are 419 national park units and 111 of them charge a fee; ranging from $5 per person to $35 per vehicle. You may want to plan your visit to coincide with one of the five days of the year where entrance to any national park unit is free.
FREE National Park Days
In 2020, entrance to any national park unit is free on:
- January 20th – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- April 18th – the start of National Park Week
- August 25th – birthday of the National Park Service
- September 26th – National Public Lands Day
- November 11th – Veterans Day
2020 Entry Fees
In 2020, you are looking at entry fees of $35 per vehicle for the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks; $30 per vehicle for Joshua Tree, Olympic, Mount Rainier, Shenandoah, Arches, Canyonlands, and Teddy Roosevelt National Parks; and $25 per vehicle for White Sands National Park.
National park units like Devils Tower and Hovenweap National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Padre Island National Seashore, and Fort Davis National Historic Site also charge a fee per vehicle of $20. Others where there is no vehicle access, the fee is per person – as high as $15 per person at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Adams National Historical Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Cabrillo National Monument.
Note: These fees only cover admission. They don’t cover any extra amenities like camping or special tours. Some also require transportation to get there. For example, you will have to pay a concessionaire to go by boat to Dry Tortugas, Isle Royale, or Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Entrance to Mount Rushmore National Park is free but you still have to pay to park your car.
America the Beautiful Pass
If you are a US citizen and plan to visit several national parks in a year, it is a no brainer to buy an annual America the Beautiful Pass.
For example, let’s say you are doing the Grand Circle Tour of southern Utah, you will be visiting Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches, with a total of $150 in entrance fees.This is almost double the $80 flat fee charged by the National Park Service for an annual pass!
Not only that, this pass will give you free admission to over 2000 federally owned sites. This includes sites administered by the National Park Service, as well as BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service and the US Army Corp of Engineers. (We use ours when we visit our local lakes… rather than buy a US Forest Service pass. All we have to do is hang our America the Beautiful Pass in our windshield.)
Need Help Planning your Visits?
If you would like to explore this or other National Park Units, but need a bit help in the planning, please give us a call at (480) 609-3978. We are happy to offer customized trip planning.