Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th Birthday With Free Entry to 412 NPS Sites — Plus, Points Hotels to Stay in Nearby

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The first federal act of land protection, signed by President Lincoln in 1864, ceded the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state of California, “to be held for public use, resort and recreation.” Yellowstone National Park became the world’s first national park in 1872, and on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson’s signature on a Congressional bill established the National Park Service (NPS).

In celebration of its centennial, all 412 NPS sites within the National Park system will be fee-free between August 25 and 28 — and not just the 59 national parks, but all monuments, memorials, historical parks and sites, scenic rivers and trails, lake and seashores, military parks and battlefields as well.

In addition to a free visit, why not also redeem some of those precious hotel points and make it a free stay altogether? By using the following cities (arranged alphabetically) as a base to explore some of their surrounding NPS sites, you can do just that. Here are 10 cities to use as your base for exploring the parks, plus the starting rates and points needed for a free night in late-August. Note: NHS signifies a national historic site, and NHP a national historical park.

1. Asheville, North Carolina

This funky foodie city is located about 50 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the number one most-visited national park in 2015, with more than 10 million visitors per year. Nearby, the Carl Sandburg Home NHS, Andrew Johnson NHS and Blue Ridge Parkway are also worth visiting.

Where to Stay

  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Asheville–Tunnel Road, from $149 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Hampton Inn Asheville–Tunnel Road, from $136 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; both are Category 6 properties
  • Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown, a Category 3 property from $239 or 12,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night
  • Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, from $224 or 50,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Marriott Renaissance Asheville, a Category 8 property, from $166 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points
Smoky Mountains National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Smoky Mountains National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

2.  Boston, Massachusetts

Take on the Freedom Trail or any number of national historic parks, including Adams NHP, the Boston African American NHS, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Boston NHP, the Frederick Law Olmstead NHS, John F. Kennedy NHS, Minute Man NHP, the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters NHS), Saugus Iron Works NHS and Salem Maritime NHS.

Where to Stay

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston Downtown, a Category 7 property, from $224 or 60,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, a Category 4 property, from $259 or 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night
  • Intercontinental Boston, from $367 or 55,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Residence Inn Downtown Seaport and Boston Harbor, a Category 8 property, from $297 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
  • W Boston, an SPG Category 6 property, from $227 or 20,000 Starpoints per night; The Westin Boston Waterfront, an SPG Category 5 property, from $227 or 12,000 Starpoints per night
Minute Man National Historic Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Minute Man National Historic Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

3. Cleveland, Ohio 

The city where this year’s Republican National Convention was held is located 30 minutes from Cuyahoga Valley National Park and James A. Garfield NHS, and about an hour’s drive from the National First Ladies’ Library. Considering a day-trip? Just two hours west along Lake Erie, you’ll find the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, a monument commemorating the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie. Further south, visit the Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP, where you’ll find info on the formative years of the Wright Brothers, as well as the William Howard Taft NHS.

Where to Stay

  • The Tudor Arms Hotel Cleveland–a DoubleTree by Hilton, a Category 5 Hilton property, from $136 or 30,000 Hilton HHonors Rewards points per night; Hampton Inn Cleveland Downtown, Category 4, from $132 or 30,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Intercontinental Suites Hotel Cleveland starts at $195 or 3o,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Aloft Cleveland Downtown, an SPG Category 4 property, from $112 or 10,000 Starpoints per night
  • Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown, a Category 6 property, from $146 or 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
Ritchie Ledges, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

4. Jacksonville, Florida

This popular Florida city makes a great base for visiting nearby coastal sites and barrier islands that are rich in biodiversity and mark the early growth of the nation. History buffs will love Fort Caroline — the spot where the French first landed in Florida in 1564 — as well as Fort Matanzas National Monument and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest masonry fort in the US, located nearby in St. Augustine. Just over the Florida-Georgia border, check out Cumberland Island National Seashore, home to 9,800 acres of wilderness. If you’ve got some time to spare, drive 90 minutes up the Georgia coast to Fort Frederica in Saint Simons Island, where the British defeated the Spanish in 1742.

Where to Stay

  • Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, a Category 2 property, from $179 or 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night
  • Hotel Indigo Jacksonville–Deerwood Park, from $141 or 20,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park, an SPG Category 3 property, from $142 or 7,000 Starpoints per night
Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

5. Manassas, Virginia

Use this charming Virginia town as your base for exploring Manassas National Battlefield Park and Prince William Forest Park, both within a 30-minute drive. You’ll also be less than a 90-minute drive from Shenandoah National Park. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP, Harpers Ferry NHP, Thomas Stone NHS, Clara Barton NHS, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park are also worth exploring if you’ve got the time.

Where to Stay

  • Hampton Inn Manassas, a Category 4 Hilton property, from $129 or 30,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Holiday Inn Manassas–Battlefield, from $112 or 15,000 IHG Rewards points per night; Holiday Inn Express & Suites Manassas, from $121 or 15,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Courtyard Manassas Battlefield, a Category 2 Marriott property, from $126 or 10,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
  • Consider the Holiday Inn Charlottesville-Monticello if you’re spending a few days exploring Shenandoah National Park, from $136 or 25,000 IHG Rewards points per night
Shenandoah National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Shenandoah National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

6. Moab, Utah

Located near Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Moab is also a lively town for dining and shopping, perfect for fans of antiques, bookstores and cafés. Dead Horse Point State Park is along the way to Canyonlands, and definitely worth a stop.

Where to Stay

  • Hampton Inn Moab, a Category 6 Hilton property, from $165 or 40,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Moab, from $195 or 35,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites, a Category 6 Marriott property located just 2.3 miles from the gates of Arches National Park, is $195 or 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
Canyonlands National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

7. Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City’s vibrant downtown is about an hour’s drive from Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Minuteman and Missile NHS — which housed a nuclear arsenal during the Cold War — and Jewel Cave National Monument in Black Hills National Forest, home to 173 miles of mapped underground passageways. Stop by Mount Rushmore National Memorial, about a 30-minute drive from Rapid City, en route to Jewel Cave — nearby Custer State Park is an amazing place to spot bison in the wild. Crazy Horse Memorial, while technically not part of the National Park system, is also worth checking out while you’re in this part of South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Where to Stay

  • Hilton Garden Inn Rapid City, a Category 6 Hilton property, from $175 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton, a Category 6 property, from $189 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Rapid City from $182 or 30,000 IHG Rewards points per night; Holiday Inn Rapid City–Rushmore Plaza, from $184 or 35,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Fairfield Inn and Suites Rapid City, a Category 7 Marriott property, from $151 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
Bison at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

8. San Francisco, California 

The City by the Bay is located within an hour’s drive of Muir Woods National Monument, Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front NHP, John Muir NHS, Fort Point NHS, San Francisco Maritime NHP and, of course, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Road trippers can venture farther out for a day-trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument and the Eugene O’Neill NHS.

Where to Stay

  • Hilton San Francisco Union Square, a Category 7 property, from $229 or 60,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Hilton San Francisco Financial District, a Category 7 property, from $175 or 60,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • The Grand Hyatt San Francisco, a Category 5 property, from $299 or 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites San Francisco Fishermans Wharf, from $196 or 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • The San Francisco Marriott Marquis, a Category 8 property, from $215 or 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night; JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square, a Category 9 property, from $224 or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
  • The W San Francisco, a SPG Category 6 property, from $241 or 20,000 Starpoints per night
Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Visit the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

9. Tupelo, Mississippi

This city marks mile 266 on the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway — stop by Tupelo National Battlefield and Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site in Baldwyn while you’re in the neighborhood.

Where to Stay

  • Hilton Garden Inn Tupelo, a Category 4 property, from $111 or 30,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Hampton Inn & Suites Tupelo/Barnes Crossing, a Category 4 property, from $116 or 30,000 Hilton HHonors points per night
  • Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Tupelo North, from $144 or 15,000 IHG Rewards points per night; Holiday Inn Express Tupelo, from $120 or 15,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Courtyard Tupelo, a Category 2 Marriott property, from $107 or 10,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
Natchez Trace Parkway. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Natchez Trace Parkway. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

10. Washington, D.C. 

The US Capitol is a treasure trove of NPS sites — click here for a complete list of all the historic places you can visit. Just across the Potomac in Virginia, tour the Arlington House–Robert E. Lee Memorial, and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

Where to Stay

  • Hampton Inn Washington, D.C./White House, from $185 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Hilton Garden Inn Washington, D.C./Georgetown Area, from $146 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night; Homewood Suites by Hilton Washington, D.C. Downtown, from $165 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night. All three are Category 7 Hilton properties.
  • Hyatt Place Washington, D.C./National Mall, from $209 or 12,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night; Hyatt Place Washington, D.C./White House, from $249 or 12,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. Both are Category 3 properties.
  • The Willard Intercontinental, from $205 or 55,000 IHG Rewards points per night
  • Courtyard Washington, D.C./Foggy Bottom, a Category 7 property, from $175 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points; Residence Inn, Washington, D.C./Capitol, a Category 7 property, from $185 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night
  • The St. Regis Washington, D.C., an SPG Category 6 property, from $279 or 20,000 Starpoints per night
Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Which national parks are you excited about visiting? Tell us about your favorites, below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit