For a handful of days every year, the National Park Service allows anyone in the country to access the marvels inside the national parks. Many of the nation's more than 400 parks charge an admission fee in order to maintain and preserve these beautiful habitats. However, in 2019, there are five opportunities to get into a park for free. That means you can explore the massive caverns of Mammoth Cave, ogle the bison herds of Yellowstone, or admire the glaciers of Mount Rainier.
Here are the five days -- one more than there was in 2018 -- when the Park Service will offer free admission in 2019.
January 21: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 20: First day of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 28: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day
Waived entrance fees do not include costs you may incur for travel around the parks or camping spaces.
The first of these days arrives on January 21. That's still more than two weeks away, but should the current government shutdown last until that time, that free day could potentially be in jeopardy. Due to President Donald Trump's government shutdown, the parks aren't running at full capacity. The staff has been reduced to absolutely required personnel only, many campgrounds are closed, and there isn't enough staff to properly maintain facilities like bathrooms and tours.
Moreover, there are reports of visitors damaging park grounds with no one there to keep an eye on the situation. CNN reports people have been off-roading and bringing prohibited animals into parks. Meanwhile, Vice reports that due to overflowing toilets, people are relieving themselves whenever and where the mood strikes.
Nonetheless, while there are just a handful of free days, they're days of which you should take note. Few people regret spending a day basking in the bits of natural beauty still remaining in the United States.