On select days in 2021, the National Park Service welcomes visitors to all of its parks — including those that normally charge an entry fee — for free. And one of those days is Sept. 26, 2021, for National Public Lands Day.
The annual commemoration, which started in 1994, is held on the fourth Saturday of September and “celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits,” according to the National Park Service’s site. It also usually marks the biggest volunteer day of the year.
Organized with the National Environmental Education Foundation, along with the Departments of Interior, Army, and Agriculture, the holiday encourages Americans to bond with nature by joining a volunteer project, enjoying the benefits of being outdoors, and, of course, visiting a national park for free.
Parks which usually charge an admission fee, including Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Joshua Tree National Park in California, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico, will invite visitors in with complimentary entry. (Check the full list for participating parks.)
Additionally, special events are normally held, but since concerns from COVID-19 have limited the number of gatherings, this year’s National Public Lands Day will include both in-person and virtual events, with the theme of “More Ways to Connect with Nature.”
This is just one of several days this year that the National Park Service invites guests in fee-free. The other remaining day will be Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.