Everyone Can Get Into National Parks for Free This Weekend

free national park days 2018

Anyone who has spent time in a U.S. National Park knows they're incredible spaces worth visiting and revisiting frequently. Luckily for, well, pretty much everyone, you can get into National Parks for free on September 22 for National Public Lands Day. 

Every year the National Parks open their proverbial doors for a handful of days to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see the spectacular wilderness still available in the United States. In 2018, there are four free days, a bit fewer than the 10 free days in 2017. September 22 will be the third of this year's run, with the final day landing on November 11 in honor of Veterans Day. (Many national cemeteries, such as Shiloh and Gettysburg, are managed by the Parks Service.)

Some people react to free days by asking why they aren't always free. The parks are underfunded and expensive to care for, preserve, restore, and staff. Nonetheless, many parks are free or have free activities. For instance, Mammoth Cave National Park -- home of the longest cave system in the world -- has tons of "surface activities" like biking, canoeing in the Green River, stargazing, and enjoying the wildlife. All of the surface activities are free every day of the year. 

Moreover, the fees parks usually charge are an incredible deal. If you go to Zion National Park on a non-free day, it's $35 for an entire carload of people to enjoy the park for a week. 

The free days maybe aren't something you're structuring your next vacation around, but it's a great opportunity to see what parks are near you and do as the Parks' campaign for this year suggests: Find Your Park.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson. dnelson at thrillist dot com