Our country is blessed with over 400 National Parks. Last year to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service, President Barack Obama created Every Kid in a Park so fourth graders and their families could discover our wildlife, resources, and history for free. This program is designed to get kids off the couch and into the great outdoors. Every fourth grader (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age) is eligible to receive a pass. The pass gives them (and their families) free access to the National Parks during the 2016 – 2017 school year.
Why fourth graders?
According to the National Park Service, “We chose fourth graders because research shows that kids ages nine to 11 are beginning to learn about the world around them. They’re open to new ideas, and they are likely to connect to nature and our history.”
Kids can sign up for their free pass by going to the Every Kid in a Park website. They just need to answer a few questions about activities and enter their zip code to print the pass. No personal information is needed. The pass will allow free entry into hundreds of National parks through August 1, 2017.
A few things to know
Electronic copies aren’t accepted. The pass must be printed and brought with you when you visit.
Each pass has a unique code. That means it cannot be copied and shared with friends. This program only provides passes for fourth graders.
If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person, the pass will admit all children under 16 and up to three adults for free. If your group visits a site that charges vehicle fees, the pass admits all children under 16 and all adults in up to one passenger vehicle.
The pass doesn’t cover things like camping, boat launches, and special tours. Also, some sites are managed by private operators. They may not honor the pass. Check with the site ahead of time to find out. The National Parks not only preserve amazing outdoor spaces, but also monuments, battlefields, and other locations important to our history.
What if you’re not a 4th Grader?
There is still a pass for you.
NPS Annual Passes (check the website here)
- America the Beautiful Pass All visitors $80
- Military Pass Current U.S. military members and their dependents Free
- Senior Lifetime Pass U.S. citizens and permanent residents 62 years and older $10
- Access Pass U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a permanent disability Free
- Volunteer Pass Visitors volunteering 250 hours a year Free
On top of that, there are also free days and some parks do not have any fees.
Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2017:
- April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
Now get out there! Explore ancient dwellings! See a waterfall taller than a building! Discover our National Parks!
“Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans” President Barack Obama