Unlock the Great Outdoors: How to Get a Free National Park Pass for Your Next Adventure

zion national park sign

Did you know you own a mountain range in Colorado? Or how about 7 islands and protected reefs off the coast of Florida? Federal public lands and waters belong to ALL Americans. So, if you are a US Citizen, these public lands belong to YOU and you can get a FREE National Park Pass when you’re in 4th grade (moms and dads – take note!)

grand prismatic spring in Yellowstone national park

Most national parks have an entrance fee of $25-$30 per vehicle BUT did you know that Federal Land Agencies have a program for 4th graders and their families where you can gain entrance for FREE?

The “every kid in a park” program provides a free annual National Park pass for the 4th-grade child and their families.

A few things to know about the program:

  • The pass is for fourth-grade (or home-school equivalent) students.
  • The pass is good for 1 year beginning Sept. 1 and ending August 31st the following year.
  • If you forget your pass when you visit, you’ll have to pay – so REMEMBER to bring your pass.
  • If you lose your pass, you can get a new one on the Every Kid In A Park website.
  • “Every Kid in a Park” is a US Federal government initiative launched in 2015.
  • The program provides all 4th-grade students in the United States with a free annual pass to national parks and other federal lands and waters.
  • The goal is to promote children’s appreciation of nature and the outdoors and to increase opportunities for them to experience national parks.
  • The pass is valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year and can be obtained through the official website.
  • The program is part of the National Park Service’s larger effort to connect with the next generation of visitors and park stewards.

How it works:

  • Show your pass to the Ranger on duty when you enter the National Park. If there is no Ranger, leave the pass on the dash of your car.
  • National Parks or sites that charge per person – the pass covers up to 3 adults and children in a vehicle for free.
  • The free National Park Pass does NOT cover things like parking fees, campsite fees, etc.
  • The National Park Pass does not cover state parks, county parks, etc.

National Park Vs. National Monument

While there are over 418 national park sites, only 61 of them have the “National Park” designation in their names. All the other sites fall into different National Park System categories like National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, and others. The annual Pass is only good at National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and grasslands. It can also be used on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

New Goal – Visit the National Parks!

When we first started traveling, one of our goals was to visit every state. We’ve been able to check off over half of the 50 states and it became clear we were going to add states to our map a lot faster than anticipated.

Now, we are adding a new goal to the mix. Visit all the National Parks! I was able to find some National Park stickers on Amazon, so we will begin adding these to our slide along with our state map.

No matter where you live, chances are, there is a National Park nearby. If you have a 4th Grader, make sure you take advantage of the Free National Park pass! Click the image below to see the video with the details.

Free National Park Pass

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