How to Visit National Parks for Free to Create Fun Family Memories for a Lifetime

By Stephanie Pletka

It was a hot summer day in June, as our car slowly meander through Yellowstone, passing waterfalls and streams. The kids were all fighting in the backseat over who was taller, when suddenly, a 2000-pound scruffy buffalo, nonchalantly walked by our side view mirror, down the yellow line along the winding road; as if it discovered a short cut to the meadow. The fighting turned into whispers of “whoa” and epic laughter, as they viewed a phenomenon that only wildlife in a National Park could offer. The kids, to this day, still talk about those family memories. 

America, with its 63 protected National Parks offers an array of glorious scenery and untouched streams, where the mountain peaks seem to touch the billowy sky. There are 1000’s of hiking trails, geysers and glaciers, waterfalls and biking paths, awaiting your adventure.

Are you ready for a road trip, to leave the rat race of suburbia for bluer skies and cleaner air? To make memories, hear the laughter of your kids and build relationships for a lifetime? 

It costs anywhere from $35-$70 per car to visit a national park, like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Glacier. And $80 per car for an annual pass. 

Yellowstone Hot Springs

4 Ways to Visit National Parks for Free:

  1. Travel with a 4th or 5th grader
  2. Military Can Claim a Free Pass (Show ID)
  3. Volunteer with a Federal Agency (NPS)
  4. 62 & older can purchase an annual pass for $20. (Visit the park with your grandparents)

Free Entrance Days:

1/18    Martin Luther King Jr

4/17    1st Day of National Park week

8/4      Great American Outdoors Act

8/25    National Park’s Service Birthday

8/25    National Public Lands Day

11/11  Veterans Day

If the criteria doesn’t apply to you, grab a National Park Pass and plan your trip today, where only a buffalo could quell the back seat fighting and turn those mundane vacations into family memories of a lifetime. Here’s to Living Your Best Mom Life.

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