Lonely Planet Writer

Celebrate 100 years with 16 free days at America's national parks

All of America’s national parks will be open to the public for free on 16 days this year to mark the National Parks Service’s centennial.

A photo taken in approximately 1915 in Yosemite National Park featuring the Half Dome in the background.
A photo taken in approximately 1915 in Yosemite National Park featuring the Half Dome in the background. Image by National Parks Service Archive

The first free day will be 18 January, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Parks will have free admission 16 through 24 April for National Park Week, 25 through 28 August for the National Parks Service’s birthday, 24 September for the National Public Lands Day and 11 November for Veterans Day.

A recent photo of Glacier Point, a viewpoint above Yosemite Valley, in California, USA, showing of the Half Dome.
A recent photo of Glacier Point, a viewpoint above Yosemite Valley, in California, USA, showing of the Half Dome. Image by Dimitry B. / CC BY 2.0

There are 409 national parks in the US, 127 of which normally charge an entrance fee. Last year, almost 293 million people visited a national park, according to the NPS.

A photo taken in approximately 1916 in Rocky Mountain National Park in the USA, featuring Ranger Kesner at the Twin Sisters Peaks fire outlook.
A photo taken in approximately 1916 in Rocky Mountain National Park in the USA, featuring Ranger Kesner at the Twin Sisters Peaks fire outlook. Image by National Parks Service Archive

The NPS has also launched a website for its initiative Find Your Park, which is aimed at helping people find which of America’s parks they would like to visit and centennial celebrations across the country.

Recent photo from the Forest Canyon overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Recent photo from the Forest Canyon overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park. Image by Miguel Vieira / CC BY 2.0

Read more: Top 10 US National Parks travel experiences

Best of the Rockies: how to choose a national park

US Mint unveils new coins to commemorate National Park Service centennial