There are five days every year that the National Park Service offers free entrance to to more than 400 National parks that charge an entrance fee. This includes free entrance to Joshua Tree or Death Valley and free parking at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.
Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates!
2023 Free National Park Days
- Monday, January 16: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (third Monday in January)
- Saturday, April 22: First day of National Park Week
- Friday, August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- Saturday, September 23: National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September)
- Saturday, November 11: Veterans Day
The fee waiver does NOT cover amenities and visitor activities, such as camping, transportation and tours.
California State Parks do NOT participate in these free days and entrance fees will still apply.
Find a park in California or across the country using the National Park Service’s map.
Southern California National Parks
- Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego, CA)
- Castle Mountains (Barstow, CA) – No entrance fee year round.
- Channel Islands (Ventura County, CA) – No entrance fee year round but there is a cost to ride the ferry there.
- Death Valley (CA/NV border)
- Devils Postpile (Sierra Nevada near Mammoth Lakes, CA) – Vehicle fees only.
- Joshua Tree (Southern California between I-10 and Hwy 62; headquarters in Twentynine Palms, CA)
- Mojave National Preserve (Southern California between I-15 and I-40; headquarters in Barstow, CA) – No entrance fee year round.
- Santa Monica Mountains (Thousand Oaks, CA) – No entrance fee year round.
Find The Best National Parks In California
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Free Entrance
In honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Park Service sites waive entrance fees for everyone on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Many national parks traditionally host a variety of service projects that people can sign up for as volunteers.
National Park Week Free Entrance
National Park Week is a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park. Every April, there is a day when National Park entry is free to kick off National Park Week.
There is also California State Parks Week which takes place in June but the State of California has not offered free entrance to the more than 279 state parks during this time.
Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Free Entrance
The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), passed in 2020, provides funding to improve infrastructure and expand recreation opportunities in national parks and other public lands. The Act enables national parks and other federal lands to repair and upgrade vital infrastructure and facilities that will enrich the visitor experience, protect resources, and enable increased access for all visitors.
In commemoration of the signing of this act, August 4th is dedicated as the “Great American Outdoors Day” and includes free entrance to National Parks.
National Public Lands Day Free Entrance
Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is traditionally the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits.
Hundreds of thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves to help restore and preserve public lands of all types and sizes—from iconic national parks and rivers to local urban green spaces and everything in between.
Veterans Day Free Entrance
Free entrance to National Parks on Veterans Day allows access to the dozens of cemeteries, battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. In addition, every national park is part of a collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.
Veterans Free Lifetime Pass
U.S. military members and their dependents, National Guard and Reserves, U.S. military veterans, and Gold Star Families can obtain a free lifetime Military Pass that provides free entrance to national parks and other federal recreation areas.
The program waives entrance or standard amenity fees for the following agencies:
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Forest Service
- US Army Corps of Engineers
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