America’s Best Idea — our national parks — is even better when admission is free!
Mark your calendar now for entrance fee-free dates for the coming year. On these dates, FREE entrance is available at any of the U.S. National Parks across the country that normally charge an entrance fee.
During the fee-free days, the parks waive entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservations, camping, tours, concessions and fees collected by third parties are not included in this promotion.
2021 U.S. National Parks Free Entrance Days
- January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- April 17: First day of National Park Week
- August 4 : Great American Outdoors Act Anniversary
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 25: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
National Parks Close to Kansas City
There are more than 400 National Park Service sites nationwide, with at least one in every state. Approximately 100 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35. The other 300-plus national parks do not have entrance fees.
Here are the national parks near Kansas City that normally charge an entrance fee, but are participating in the 2021 free entrance days.
Fort Smith National Historic Site: Explore life on the edge of frontier and Indian Territory through the stories of soldiers, the Trail of Tears, scandals, outlaws, and lawmen who pursued them. From the establishment of the first Fort Smith on December 25, 1817, to the final days of Judge Isaac C. Parker’s jurisdiction over Indian Territory in 1896, Fort Smith National Historic Site preserves almost 80 years of history.
Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis: The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. The park is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Springfield: Wilson’s Creek was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River, and the site of the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action. The costly Southern victory on August 10, 1861, focused national attention on the war in Missouri. Wilson’s Creek NB commemorates and interprets the battle within the context of the war in the Trans-Mississippi West.
Keep in mind, there are plenty of national parks close to Kansas City that offer FREE entrance every day.
Find a Park by going to the National Park Service website and using the search tool or interactive map. You can search for parks in your state or parks that feature activities you like, such as camping, fishing or hiking, as well as educational programs and historic sites.
Free National Park Entrance for Veterans & Gold Star Families
In November 2020, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior signed an order granting Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans free access to national parks, national wildlife refuges and other federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior.
They have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and rock climbing. Additionally, lands and waters managed by the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are participating in the program.
More Ways to Save When Visiting U.S. National Parks
Another way to save if you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, is to consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands – more than 2,000 in all.
Click here for more details on the annual pass and other savings for seniors, active military members and U.S. residents with permanent disabilities.