Free Entry to National Parks in 2016


If you resolved to spend more time in the great outdoors in 2016, someone out there is listening.

Because yesterday, the National Park Service announced that they’re offering free entry to all 409 National Parks on 16 days in 2016 to celebrate their 100th birthday. The first such date — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 18 — is rapidly approaching.  

Lime Kiln Point State Park, on San Juan Island, features a 1919 lighthouse. Illustrates TRAVEL-PUGET (category t), by Andrea Sachs (c) 2008, The Washington Post. Moved Tuesday, July 29, 2008. (MUST CREDIT: Robin Jacobson.)

Lime Kiln Point State Park, on San Juan Island, features a 1919 lighthouse. Illustrates TRAVEL-PUGET (category t), by Andrea Sachs (c) 2008, The Washington Post. Moved Tuesday, July 29, 2008. (MUST CREDIT: Robin Jacobson.)

The longest stretch of gratis entry will last from April 16- 24 during National Parks Week and the next long stint will be from August 25-28 for the Park Service’s birthday.

In addition to those dates, “America’s Best Idea” will be free for National Public Lands Day on September 14 and on November 11 in honor of Veterans Day. 

The perks go beyond waiving the usual entrance fees for the parks that have them — commercial tour and transportation entrance charges will also be eliminated for the designated free days.

If you can’t make it any time during the Calendar of Free, bring your family along and make use of the Every Kid in a Park program which gets fourth graders and their familes in without charge.

Plan your long weekends now.

The remaining 2016 State Parks free days include:

  • Jan. 17 and 18 – (Sunday and Monday) Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • March 19 – (Saturday) Washington State Parks’ 103rd birthday.
  • March 26 – (Saturday) A springtime free Saturday.
  • April 22 – (Friday) Earth Day.
  • May 8 – (Sunday) A springtime free Sunday.
  • June 4 – (Saturday) National Trails Day.
  • June 11 – (Saturday) National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Aug. 25 – (Thursday) National Park Service 100th birthday.
  • Sept. 24 – (Saturday) National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 – (Friday) Veterans Day.

The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most day-use recreation sites in Oregon and Washington on the following days:

  • Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Day.
  • Feb. 15, President’s Day.
  • June 11, National Get Outdoors Day.
  • Sept. 24, National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

National Park Service fee-free days this year — 16 in all to celebrate its centennial — include

  • Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16-24: National Park Week
  • Aug. 25-28: National Park Service Birthday
  • Sept. 24: National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11: Veterans Day
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