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INSUBUY® Insurance Blog

How to Visit US National Parks for Free

Posted: 08/12/20221,859 Views

The US National Park System is one of the crown jewels of the United States, and a huge draw for tourists from around the world. World-famous sites like the Grand Canyon, the geysers of Yellowstone, and the jaw-dropping peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park draw more than 20 million combined visitors each year, and they’re just three of the 423 units of the National Park System.

Naturally, many foreign-born people in the US want to show their visiting families some of these incredible sites when they’re in the United States. And while it would be impossible to see even a fraction of all of them during a single trip, a visit to at least one or two is doable, no matter where you are in the US.

However, international vacations cost a lot of money, and people want to save wherever possible. Luckily, there are some options that allow you to visit US National Park sites completely free.

Does it Cost Money to Enter US National Parks?

Of the 423 National Park sites in the US, 108 of them charge for entry. Naturally, the ones that do charge tend to be the most popular ones to visit. Entry prices range from $20 to $35 per vehicle, and $10 to $20 per person, depending upon the park. If you’re visiting with a large family, it can easily set you back several hundred dollars.

Which US National Parks are Free to Enter?

Luckily, the majority of US National Parks charge no entry fee at all. For instance, North Cascades National Park in Washington, Redwood National Park in California, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio are all free to enter year-round, along with over 300 more. It just takes a little research to discover the free ones near you.

How to Enter Any US National Park for Free

If you plan your trip right, your entire family can visit any one of the most famous US National Parks for free, but only on certain days. The US National Park Service sets aside entrance fee-free days every year, allowing visitors to relish in natural splendor and see incredible monuments without spending anything at all. 

These fee-free days often fall on US holidays, or on days that are significant to the National Park Service. For 2022, the National Park entrance fee-free days are:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day – January 17
  • Beginning of National Park Week – April 16
  • Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act – August 4
  • National Public Lands Day – September 24
  • Veterans Day – November 11

As of this writing, most of those days have passed for 2022, but you still have two more chances before the end of the year. It is expected that the fee-free days for 2023 will be on the same holidays, though they may fall on different dates. The National Park Service will post an official list of fee-free entry days for 2023 before the end of this year.

How Free is “Free?”

Before your family sets off to visit a National Park on one of these fee-free days, remember that the only fee actually waived is the park entrance fee. If you want to go camping, access a boat launch, or take a guided tour, you’ll still have to pay whatever fees that particular park charges for those amenities. 

Don’t Forget the Right Insurance for US National Parks

Every member of your visiting family should be covered by visitors insurance while visiting you in the United States. If one of them were to get sick or hurt, your domestic insurance won’t cover them. Visitors insurance is the only way to ensure they can receive necessary care with a predictable bill. 

However, if you plan to visit a National Park with your family, keep in mind the activities you’ll be participating in. Standard visitors insurance plans may not cover higher-risk activities like mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, or horseback riding

Be sure to read the insurance policy’s certificate carefully before purchase. If it will not provide coverage for the activity your family member wants to take part in, consider getting hazardous sports travel insurance

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