FREE National Park Entry Days in 2024

FREE National Park Entry Days in 2024

2024 is officially here, and that means a whole new year of travel and adventure has begun! ADG founder Joel Anderson has learned a few tricks about when (and when NOT) to visit certain National Parks. Above is a shot of Joel and his three sons in Bryce Canyon during late May—Bryce can be crowded almost any time of the year because of how it is laid out, but crowds are definitely lighter when school is in session. Since Bryce is high in altitude, you might find snow on the paths as late as June and as early as October. Below is a shot of Joel in Yosemite during the month of September—great weather, and less crowded, but the famous waterfalls fed by melting snow are barely flowing, compared to springtime.

Since the artists and creatives of Anderson Design Group are so dedicated to traveling the nation and world in search of inspiration and reference material for poster art, travel art, National Park art, and vintage-styled art, we thought we'd start the year off right by highlighting the free entry days set aside by the National Park Service.

The National Park Service Added an Additional Free Entry Day for 2024!

Not every site managed by the National Park Service (NPS) charges an entry fee, but for those that do, it's a great perk to visit on a fee-free day. Also, 2024 offers a bonus day!

For years, the NPS provided free entry on five days to the 428 parks managed by the NPS. But for 2024, the NPS added a sixth day for free entry to the parks, Juneteenth!

So, the days in 2024 in which visitors can access any of the 428 National Park sites without paying a fee are:

- January 15th, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20th, the first day of National Park Week
- June 19th, Juneteenth
- August 4th, Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 28th, National Public Lands Day
- November 11th, Veterans Day

Two of Joel's sons look out over Angel's Landing in Zion National Park during the month of May. This is a great time of year to visit before school lets out, and hot weather starts!

The NPS also offers a great rate for their annual pass. Quoting the Park Service:

“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 normally charge an entrance fee. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the military, families of fourth-grade students, and disabled citizens.”

Avoid the Crowds in these Parks

The only occasional downside to fee-free days is that many of the more popular National Parks and NPS-managed nature sites become inundated with visitors on such days. To visit a quieter, less-traveled park while still taking advantage of the fee-free days, check out these lesser-traveled parks:

Lassen Volcanic National Park. Often described as the little cousin of Yellowstone, Lassen Volcanic has many volcanic and geothermal features just like Yellowstone does, but with a fraction of the crowds.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A bit off the beaten path, this park made the coveted list of 63 National Parks, yet its remote location is credited with keeping visitation low. However, the incredible vistas on display from multiple vantage points in the park have been likened to other visitor-dense parks like Grand Canyon and Zion.

Shenandoah National Park. Though it is geographically not far from the most-visited park on the roster (Great Smoky Mountains National Park), Shenandoah attracts a fraction of the visitation while offering similar amenities and adventure opportunities.

Big Bend National Park. Also quite remote, Big Bend National Park provides opportunities for memorable southwestern nature experiences, but without the rush of people one is likely to experience at Zion, Arches, or the Grand Canyon.

North Cascades National Park. While visitation is still moderate on fee-free entry days at North Cascades, it’s nothing like that of nearby Mount Rainier National Park. However, North Cascades allows one to have experiences similar to Mount Rainier, like access to incredible mountain peaks, beautiful hiking trails, flower-clad valleys, and rushing rivers.

Enjoy the Parks in 2024

Visitation at the National Parks has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 2022 recording close to 312 million visitors and 2021 recording 297 million. 

So when you travel to the parks in 2024, bear in mind the impact of human traffic within the parks, and do your best to enjoy these serene natural lands responsibly. Thankfully, the NPS provides a host of information on responsible park visitation and how to be a good steward of America’s Best Idea, the National Parks.

Last but not least, if you need travel inspiration for your next park or a souvenir from a park you recently visited, our poster artists have produced a collection of National Park poster art, travel art, National Parks illustrations, and vintage-styled art. Choose from over 300 original illustrations created by several award-winning artists, each inspired by the Works Progress Administration and the vintage art created to celebrate the first National Parks.

Each of our artists and staff shares one thing in common: a love for America's National Parks and the deeper meaning behind the preservation of these natural beauties for generations to come. We know we'll be in the parks a lot this year, and we hope you will, too.

See you on the trails,

-Ren Brabenec
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer

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