Lonely Planet Writer

Skip shopping and head to these free national and state parks on Black Friday

If pushing your way through a crowded mall on Black Friday seems like your worst nightmare, why not get outside and explore the national and state parks around the US that will be free to visit on 24 November?

Backpacking along the coast in the Olympic National Park. Image by Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

In an attempt to shift the day after Thanksgiving from a day of shopping to a day of exploration, in 2015, outdoor retailer REI launched #OptOutside. For the third year in a row, the company will close all of its stores for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, encouraging people to instead get out and enjoy some outdoor activities.

Naturally, the idea is quite appealing for anyone who wants to de-stress with a bit of time in nature, and the idea caught on with other companies, the National Parks Service and many state parks.

Around the US, national and state parks are participating, waiving park entry and parking fees in an effort to entice visitors. For example, Oregon State Parks has announced that for the third year in a row, they will waive day-use parking fees at 26 Oregon State Parks on Black Friday. While there are many parks with free parking year-round, the waiver applies to the 26 that usually charge $5 per day, like Shore Acres State Park and Silver Falls State Park. “We started this tradition three years ago to encourage people to opt outside,” said OPRD director Lisa Sumption in a statement. “Why not get some fresh air with your family and create a new holiday tradition?” Michigan and Arizona are also among the states encouraging people to get outside by waiving fees, with more states participating around the country.

Some national parks will even have organized events for anyone who needs a bit of encouragement to #OptOutside, like group hiking trips. Check your nearest state or national park to see if fees will be waived on Black Friday.