Best National Parks That Don’t Charge an Entrance Fee

National parks are breathtaking sights that are safeguarded for the enjoyment of all. But going to one can get pretty pricey. Certain parks charge an admission fee for each car or even per individual. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t cover the cost of parking, camping, hotels, or any additional activities that guests might wish to partake in.

Fortunately, there are a few of these that don’t require an admission cost. These twelve parks offer free admission. However, bear in mind that extra costs for accommodations, parking, and camping may still apply to visitors. There are, however, a few days this year when admission to parks that demand a fee will be free if you’d still like to visit one. Make sure to block out these six days on your calendars. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is January 15th. The opening day of National Park Week is April 20. Juneteenth National Independence Day falls on June 19th. August 4th marks the Great American Outdoors Act’s anniversary. Veterans Day is on November 11th, and National Public Lands Day is on September 28th.

1. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest national park in the United States, spanning 13 million acres. It is comparable in size to Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the entire nation of Switzerland. There are a few other things that this park excels in. Within the National Wilderness Preservation System, it boasts the greatest wilderness area. The second-highest summit in the US is Mt. St. Elias, at 18,008 feet.

2. Biscayne National Park, Florida

95% of Biscayne National Park, which is close to Miami, Florida, is made of water, making it unique. This park preserves a unique arrangement of green islands, blue waterways, and coral reefs adorned with fish. Within the park, visitors can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, or boating. In addition, there are guided eco-adventures, fishing, and lobstering. If you don’t want to be near the sea, there are movies, galleries, museum exhibits, and walking routes at the visitor center.

3. Redwood National Park, California

When one thinks of Redwood National Park, its trees are the first thing that usually spring to mind. After all, the world’s tallest trees are found there. But that isn’t the only feature that makes this park well-known. In addition, 40 miles of untamed shoreline, huge grasslands, oak trees, and natural rivers are all preserved by the Redwoods. Sleeping beneath these enormous trees is one of the interesting things you can do here. Visitors can hike to one of seven backcountry camps that have been designated, or they can pick from four constructed campgrounds. Permits are needed for each of these choices, although they are also free.

4. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

One of the places where tourists can find something to do throughout the year is this national park. There are lakes, streams, wetlands, forests, cliffs, and rock ridges. Visitors can go boating, camping, and hiking. For an extra fee, guided tours are available, as well as activities designed especially for the various seasons of the year. Opportunities for walleye fishing are well-known in Voyageurs. You don’t have to worry about when you go. You can go fishing in the summer or ice fish in the winter as long as you obtain a fishing permit.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

The United States’ most popular national park is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park’s forest, which spans the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, is well known across the world for the diversity of its animal and plant life. Even though admission is free, if you intend to stay in the park for more than fifteen minutes, you will require a parking tag. There is enough to do within the park after that. Visitors can take a trek next to a waterfall, view the historic mill, or visit Cades Cove.

6. Great Basin National Park, Nevada

This location has all the attractions and parks packed into one. In Great Basin National Park, you can begin your underground exploration with a tour of caves, and you can end your day with a stargazing session where you reach for the stars. In between, visitors can stroll among old bristlecone pines and view foothills blanketed in sagebrush. Although there is no charge to enter the park, certain attractions, like the Lehman Cave Tours, may cost a few dollars.

7. North Cascades National Park, Washington

Seattle is located less than three hours away from the North Cascades National Park. Travel directly through the park on State Route 20, also referred to as the North Cascades Highway. This picturesque, free trip covers around 30 kilometers and passes through some truly breathtaking areas of the park. Views of towering mountains, deep forests, and tumbling waterfalls will be available to visitors.

8. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Arkansas’s Hot Springs National Park is unlike any other park of its kind. This park is situated just in the town center. There are still lots of things to do and see inside, despite its position. Admire the breathtaking geology, vistas of the mountains, and historic thermal springs. Visitors can stroll through forests and explore numerous waterways. Nine antique bathhouses can also be seen at the hot springs. There are two that let guests to immerse themselves completely and unwind in the hot spring water.

9. Channel Islands National Park, California

There is more to Channel Islands than merely a national park. Actually, there are five different islands. There is a fee for transportation to the islands, but park admission is free. Making travel arrangements in advance of your visit is highly recommended. Traveling to the Channel Islands requires planning and independence. The majority of amenities, including as food, emergency services, and mobile coverage, are very limited or nonexistent on the islands. Having saying that, every island is distinct from the others and offers a different experience.

10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Ohio has just one national park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The most well-known trail in the park follows the Ohio and Erie Canal. Within the park, one can experience broad farmlands, undulating hills, and deep forests. Visitors may ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for an extra fee. On this tour, guests may get a chance to see beavers, deer, eagles, and herons in their native environments.

Cuyahoga Valley is hosting a really unique event on April 8. There will be a complete solar eclipse there. This only takes place once every 1.5 years. Ohio last saw a complete solar eclipse in 1806. The next one is expected to cross Ohio in 2099.

11. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

One of the relatively few locations inside a floodplain is this South Carolina national park. The biggest surviving area of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the Southeast of the United States is found in this park. In the park, guests can climb one of the ten designated routes in Congaree, go kayaking or canoeing, or stroll among the champion trees. The length, terrain, and degree of navigational difficulty all affect how easy, moderate, or challenging certain paths are.

12. New River Gorge National Park and Reserve, West Virginia

The United States’ newest national park is called New River Gorge. It was declared a national river prior to December 2020. One of the oldest rivers in the nation is the New River, which is found in West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. With more than 70,000 acres of land, the park provides a wealth of opportunities for both scenic and recreational enjoyment.