Entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees are all included in the fee waiver. Other charges, such as those for camping, tours and concessions collected by third parties, are generally not included.
Park officials say the fee-free days are designed to make sites accessible to a broader group of people.
But if the dates don’t work for you, there are plenty of other ways to save when visiting any of the 417 areas that make up the parks system. An annual pass to the country’s national parks costs only about $80. And U.S. residents age 62 and older can obtain a lifetime senior pass for only $10. Those with disabilities and members of the military (and military families) can get annual passes for free.
In addition to the highly popular sites such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of lesser-known parks to check out including Congaree in South Carolina, Dry Tortugas in Florida, and North Cascades in Washington.
“Our national parks are our national treasures, and it’s important to recognize that they are more than just beautiful landscapes,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement in March. “Growing up near Glacier National Park, I understand the value these places bring to local economies and preserving our heritage. As we enter into a second century of service and visitation numbers continue to increase, we will focus on maintenance backlogs and ensuring these special places are preserved for future generations.”
The national parks enjoyed a record-setting year in 2016, with a new tally showing 330.97 million recreational visits, a 7.72 percent jump over the year before.
It was the Park Service’s third consecutive attendance record, and 77 sites also set records for annual visits.
One reason for the rise could be the ongoing Find Your Park promotional campaign launched to mark the 100th anniversary of the Park Service’s creation. The National Park Service was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.