All National Parks are Free Today! Get Outside for the Last Days of Summer

Free national park days
Free national park days

Rumors of pumpkin spice lattes filling your social media feeds? Summer is quickly winding down, and there are only a few days left to enjoy quality time with the family before the air gets that crispy edge.

If you still have a few days to enjoy with the kids before back-to-school season, it’s time to pack in as much free summer fun as possible — including enjoying some time in the great outdoors.

For today only (Aug. 25, 2015), there’s a special freebie up for grabs: in honor of its 99th birthday, the National Parks Service is waiving entrance fees to all of its parks.

How to Get Into National Parks for Free: The Details

The 408 national parks across the United States offer everything from breathtaking scenery to seasonal events to fun activities for the whole family.

Kids can learn more about the parks and pledge to preserve nature as part of the Junior Ranger program. History buffs can explore archeological sites, take mine tours, walk heritage trails and more. Or you can simply enjoy the stunning scenery at one of the 597 National Natural Landmarks located in 48 states.

On most days, entrance fees vary by park. Popular sites like Yellowstone charge from $15 (per individual) to $30 (per vehicle) for a 7-day pass, while less-traversed sites like Everglades National Park in Florida charge $5 per individual and $10 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.

But for today only, you and the kids can get in for free! The 99th birthday bash fee waiver includes entrance fees and commercial tour fees, but does not cover extras like camping or concessions.

NPS is also throwing a #FindYourPark campaign with fun extras like Find Your Park Experiences across the country and a list of 99 Ways to Find Your Park, wherever you may be.

Not all national parks charge for admittance; while 127 require entrance fees, others are always free.

Other Options for Free Park Days

The National Park Service was established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Today, NPS provides a wide range of services, including preserving local heritage, educating the public about climate change and offering an Artist-in-Residence program.

Miss the 99th birthday bash? Here’s a list of days when you can get into parks for free throughout the year.

We’ve also written about how to use a special pass to get into a handful of parks at a reduced rate, and how to live for free as a campground host.

Your Turn: Will you visit a national park today? Which one?

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.