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National parks free to visit this Friday

Nov. 06, 2022
4 min read
Landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post updated with new information.

Friday is Veteran's Day, and as the nation honors all who serve in the armed forces, the National Park Service is marking the occasion with its final free entrance day of 2022.

On Nov. 11, visitors will be able to visit all national parks free of charge — even those that ordinarily charge an entrance fee.

While the NPS always grants free entrance to veterans — as well as Gold Star Families, plus U.S. citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities — park access will be free to all visitors on this day. This is one of several days each year on which the park service waives entrance fees.

With fall foliage in full swing in many places and a long list of parks to pick from, there’s a good chance you live close enough to one to visit later this week to savor autumn outdoors.

Visiting a national park on one of the National Park Service’s free entry days can save you up to $35 per vehicle at some of the most popular parks such as Glacier and Grand Canyon.

Remember that some of the country’s most visited parks now require reservations for entry. You can make reservations for those parks here.

A helpful tip if you plan to visit on one of the fee-free days is to skip the beautiful but busy spots like Olympic National Park and Acadia National Park in favor of lesser-known parks.

Here are a few national parks and monuments that are great options to visit.

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Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Lassen Volcanic National Park. POSNOV/GETTY IMAGES

About 2.5 hours by car from Reno, Nevada, and less than four hours from San Francisco, this Northern California national park sees just a fraction of the Yosemite hordes. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a hydrothermal wonderland where you can spot steaming fumaroles, hook a rainbow trout or dip into a clear mountain lake over the course of a day.

Manzanita Lake is a favorite for kayaking and fishing. And the beach at Summit Lake is accessible from the main park highway.

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Dinosaur National Monument. TAYLOR REILLY/GETTY IMAGES

Opting to visit a national monument instead of a national park can be a good bet for ditching the guidebook crowds. Dinosaur National Monument in Jessen, Utah, is a place where the behemoths once roamed in a particularly picturesque setting.

It’s 3.5 hours by car from Salt Lake City and about 4.5 hours from Denver. In addition to seeing prehistoric dinosaur remains embedded in rocks and petroglyphs, you can go rafting through lonely canyons along the Green and Yampa Rivers within the 210,000-acre park and hike uncrowded trails where sheer cliffs tower at every turn. For those looking to avoid the river during the winter, there is also the Quarry Visitor Center nearby that’s a great daytime activity for any kids who love dinosaurs.

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Isle Royale National Park. POSNOV/GETTY IMAGES

Ferries and seaplanes carry visitors from points in Minnesota and Michigan to this splendid national park on an island in Lake Superior. An International Biosphere Reserve, Isle Royale National Park is home to beavers, moose, gray wolves, mink and many more animals — and on most days, there are far more of them than any human visitors.

You can explore via a day hike on a short visit or stay longer to paddle miles of waterways within the park which includes inland lakes, coves and bays

Bottom line

With all national parks waiving entrance fees this Friday, it's a good time to start planning how you can take advantage of the day. You can see the entire list of participating parks and national monuments here.

Meanwhile, if you’re hoping to take advantage of a future free entry day at one of the nation’s 423 NPS sites, keep in mind that the 2022 calendar included free entry days in January, April, August, September and November, so we’ll be sure to update this story when we get the 2023 schedule; likely right around the start of the new year.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor and Sean Cudahy.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.