The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and wants everyone to celebrate! To help with the centennial celebration, all national parks will be waiving their entrance fees on 16 days in 2016. The 16 entrance fee-free days for 2016 will be:
• January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• April 16 through 24 – National Park Week
• August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday (and following weekend)
• September 24 – National Public Lands Day
• November 11 – Veterans Day
To honor the National Park Service’s centennial, the National Park Foundation has joined the National Park Service to launch a public engagement campaign called Find Your Park to help all Americans discover all the things that national parks can be. Visit FindYourPark.com for a list of Centennial special events across the country and to learn how to discover, explore, recreate, be inspired, or simply have fun in national parks.
To continue the national park adventure beyond these fee free days, the $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 sites, including all national parks, throughout the year. There are also a variety of free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current military members, fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.”
Today, the National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 409 sites with 28 different designations, including national park, national historical park, national monument, national recreation area, national battlefield, and national seashore. Collectively, these sites contain more than 18,000 miles of trails, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, 247 species of threatened and endangered species, and 167 million museum items.
Last year, almost 293 million people visited national parks. Those visitors spent $15.7 billion in local communities which supported 277,000 jobs and had a $29.7 billion effect on the economy.
The fee free days gives hikers the chance to visit several of the crown jewels in our national park system, including Rocky Mountain, Glacier, or Grand Teton National Park.Of course the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited national park, never charges a fee.