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US national parks will be free to enter this Friday in honor of Veterans Day

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Make the most of fall’s colorful leaf display on Friday, November 11, when the National Park Service (NPS) will waive entrance fees at every site in the country in honor of Veterans Day.

As national parks glow in amber, bronzes, and burnished reds, you can visit some of the best leaf-peeping spots for free this Friday.

There are more than 400 National Park Service sites across the US, with representation in each state and territory and the District of Columbia.

While the vast majority of these sites are free year-round, many of the most famous national parks in the country—including popular destinations like Yosemite and Joshua Tree— charge an entrance fee. For example, the per-vehicle cost to enter Yosemite is $35 for a seven-day pass, while it’s $20 per person (over the age of 16) when entering by foot, bike or horse.  

But this Friday is a fee-free day, just one of just five days in the calendar year when the NPS makes its protected lands free for all to enter. So no matter where you go, you won’t have to pay an entrance fee.

Each of the fee-free days commemorates a significant event.

The National Park Service’s 2022/23 free dates

  • Friday, November 11, 2023 (Veterans Day)
  • Monday, January 16, 2023 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
  • Sunday, April 16, 2023 (the first day of National Park Week)
  • Friday, August 4, 2023 (the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act)
  • Sunday, September 24, 2023 (National Public Lands Day)
  • Saturday, November 11, 2023 (Veterans Day)

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A hiker walks through the Narrows gorge in Zion National Park.
Zion is one of 11 Utah parks offering free entrance days © Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

Do I need to make a reservation?

Lands controlled by NPS have seen an increase in visitors in recent years, particularly among first-timers, as pandemic-weary hikers, ramblers, and day-trippers hit popular parks in their droves. This led to some issues in overcrowding, trail erosion, trash and vandalism, long queues, and traffic jams across US national parks. In response, many popular parks introduced reservation and timed entry systems to manage crowds.

10 secret spots in US national parks

But now that peak season is over, and overcrowding is no longer a significant concern, most national parks have dropped their reservation systems for fall/winter, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier, Arches, and Yosemite —  which means you’ll be able to rock up without a booking on Friday.

Which US national park is right for you?

That said, parks might be a little busier than usual due to the fee-free day, so why not try some lesser-visited alternatives to take the heat off the most popular national parks?

For more information, visit nps.gov.