Free national park entrance days show up on the same dates every year to offer free entry into the entire U.S. National Park System. Whether you want to hop mountains in the Tetons or skip across the sea in Acadia, you and yours can get in at no cost on any of these free entry days.
And — on top of that — we recently had a new free entry day added to the list. Let’s dig in to see when this day is, why it happened, and check out some of the best parks to explore.
New Free National Park Entrance Day and The Great American Outdoors Act
The newest addition to the list of free entry days is August 4th. August 4th was christened as a free day in honor of the passage of The Great American Outdoors Act in 2020. This act was a landmark bill for the national park system and provides up to $1.9 billion per year for five years.
The Great American Outdoors Act is funded via revenues from energy development and will allow the park system to upgrade and expand its infrastructure for the next generation of park-goers. The act also uses royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year. This money will be invested in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country.
The Great American Outdoors Act was a landmark bipartisan bill that passed with very strong support from both sides. It’s little wonder that the parks system would choose to honor it by letting us in at no cost on August 4th.
The Best National Parks to Visit on August 4th
The following national parks aren’t just figuratively cool, they are literally cool in August — as in cool temps, cool waters, and cool breezes. So why not plan a great American road trip to visit one of these spectacular places?
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming — Few places pack such spectacular beauty in one easy-to-explore place. Grand Teton is unique among our national parks because it’s possible to see all of its splendor, craggy mountain peaks, alpine lakes, and epic trails within a 1-2 day visit.
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming — Yellowstone is the world’s first national park for good reason — its hydrothermal and geologic features create an other-worldly ecosystem where geysers, volcanic pools, waterfalls, alpine lakes, and a diversity of wildlife coexist in the vastness of the park.
Word to the wise — plan several days at this park if you’d like to see every corner of it because it is truly vast.
- Glacier National Park, Montana — When this park first started, it was marketed as the Switzerland of America. Also known as The Crown of the Continent, this park has something for everyone — glaciers you can walk on, alpine meadows that bloom beautifully in July and August, historic chalets and lodges, and over 700 miles of trails!
- North Cascades National Park, Washington — Think of this as Washington State’s version of Glacier National Park. In this park, you can explore jagged peaks crowned by over 300 glaciers, soothe yourself with the sounds of cascading waters in forested valleys, and hike through some of the finest mountains in North America. This park is a short 3-hour drive from Seattle and boasts a wonderful summer climate that’ll help you beat the heat.
Here’s Outdoorsy’s guide to North Cascades National Park and here are our favorite RVs for rent near there.
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota — Jutting up like a Martian castle on the South Dakota plains, The Badlands capture everything that makes our national parks so magical — awe-inspiring vistas, otherworldly scenes, and the making of unforgettable memories.
The geological formations of the Badlands are the remnants of an ancient sea that now contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Camping options abound allowing you to sleep under a sea of stars with Bison roaming out your front door.
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota — Picture an island archipelago in northern Minnesota and you’ll have a vision of this spectacular national park. Nestled along the Canadian/Minnesota border, this park features spectacular wetlands, forests, exposed rock ledges, cliffs, and epic views of the northern lights.
A road trip to this part of the country all but guarantees that you’ll be able to escape the summer heat to enjoy things like canoeing and cool night campfires.
Here’s our guide to this national park and our favorite RVs for rent near Voyageurs.
- Isle Royale National Park, Minnesota/Michigan — Isle Royale is a pristine island within Lake Superior where no cars are allowed. To get to this national park, you have to take a small ferry boat from Minnesota’s North Shore or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Once you make the journey, you’ll be rewarded with a wild wilderness that’s far from any connected community. The Isle is a mecca for backpackers, hikers, and escape artists who want to trade urban life for wildlife.
Check out Outdoorsy’s guide to Isle Royale and here are our favorite nearby rigs for rent.
- Acadia National Park, Maine — This park showcases some of the most spectacular rock formations along the Atlantic coastline of the U.S. Four million people hit this park every year, making it one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the U.S.
By taking a road trip to Acadia for free entrance day on August 4th, you’ll benefit from cool sea breezes, 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads that are meant to be enjoyed by horseback.
Check out our guide to Acadia NP here and our RVs for rent near this majestic Maine destination.
The Great American Outdoors Act ushered in a new era for our national parks by funding much-needed projects. We can think of no better way to celebrate such a momentous day than by enjoying one of our nation’s great parks. August is the perfect month to visit our northern parks and we happen to think that one of the best ways to do that is via the open road in an RV.
That’s why we have these RVs for rent all over the country — check them out to explore our parks in the way they were meant to be explored.