On December 28, 2021, the National Park Service announced the days in 2022 when entry to national park units will be free.
Although we love any day when the general public can waltz into their national parks without paying a dime (rather than paying up to $35 per carload, the entry fee at many of the most popular parks), the calendar for 2022 has left us disappointed.
This taxpayer-paid gift is only being offered on five days in 2022, which is one fewer than in 2021.
Remember 2016? In that glorious year, very few of us had ever heard of a coronavirus and the park service gifted the public with 16 free days (in honor of the NPS centennial).
We're going in the wrong direction.
Still, five is better than nothing, so here's when the freebies come:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan 17)
First Day of National Park Week (Saturday, April 16)
Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act (Thursday, August 4)
National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 24)
Veterans Day (Friday, November 11)
Keep in mind that on those days, only government-imposed entry fees will be lifted. Charges by concessionaires, such as parking fees at Mount Rushmore, and charges for tours will remain.
In the announcement, National Park Service Director Chuck Sams was quoted as saying: “National parks are for everyone and we are committed to increasing access and providing opportunities for all to experience the sense of wonder, awe and refreshment that comes with a visit to these treasured landscapes and sites.”
Um, Chuck, if you want to increase access, shouldn't we be seeing more fee-free days, not fewer?
To read our recent article on the best U.S. National Parks to visit in winter, click here.
Pictured above: Arches National Park, Utah