Vacation planning 101: NPS announces fee-free days for 2018

Visitors can explore with their pets at Desert View and other areas on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Photo/Adobe Stock

Visitors can explore with their pets at Desert View and other areas on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

WASHINGTON — Winter winds are howling and Christmas is on the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start planning next summer’s road trip or family vacation.

America’s public lands are prime vacation spots, and the National Park Service is offering four free entry days in 2018 to help travelers experience national parks even on a budget.

The four entrance fee-free days for 2018 are:

  • Jan. 15 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
  • April 21 — First Day of National Park Week;
  • Sept. 22 — National Public Lands Day and
  • Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

“National parks connect all of us with our country’s amazing nature, culture and history,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Michael T. Reynolds. “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.”

Nationwide, 118 of the 417 national parks charge an entrance fee. The other 299 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks that charge an entrance fee. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the military, families of fourth grade student, and disabled citizens.

Other federal land management agencies are also offering fee-free days in 2018, including the U.S. Forest Service, which will offer free entry on Presidents Day (Feb. 20) and National Get Outdoors Day (June 10) in addition to the dates listed above.

The National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 417 sites, including national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park in every state.

Last year, 331 million people visited national parks spending $18.4 billion which supported 318,000 jobs across the country and had a $35 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

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