Visit the national parks for free on 6 dates in 2021

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With most of 2020 spent staying inside, 2021 may be the perfect year for heading out and exploring places full of expansive beauty — like America’s national parks.

To entice you even more to enjoy nature next year, the U.S. National Park Service is offering six free days for all 108 national parks, monuments, historic sites and preserves that usually charge an entrance fee.

That includes the iconic parks you have definitely heard of, like Yellowstone and the Everglades, plus some that may be near you, but you have yet to visit.

These incredible parks will be free for anyone to visit on the following days in 2021:

  • Jan. 18
  • April 17
  • Aug. 4
  • Aug. 25
  • Sept. 25
  • Nov. 11

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The free dates might seem arbitrary but they each mark a national holiday or special anniversary for the National Park Service, like the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the birthday of the National Park Service and Veterans Day.

April 17 also marks the beginning of National Park Week, in which parks across the country will host special programs, events and digital experiences.

While the park service offers several fee-free days every year, the Aug. 4 date is new for 2021 and marks the one-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, which designates billions of dollars to the park service and other federal agencies for the next five years.

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While the entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenities or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours, there are more than 400 parks to choose from, so there are plenty of places to explore without having to pay for admission.

If you fall head over heels for the sanctuary these sites offer, you can pick up an annual America the Beautiful pass that allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks, for $80.

I think we could all use a good hike after this year!

About the Author

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Kaitlin Gates

Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a background in newspaper and broadcasting. She has a degree in journalism and psychology, enjoys writing, editing, animals, music and movies/TV. When she's not writing, you can usually find her on her yoga mat, whipping up a new vegetarian dish or at a wine tasting with friends. You can email her at kaitlingateswrites@gmail.com or find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/KaitlinGatesWrites. Learn More.