U.S. National Parks Free Entrance Days for 2013

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by MLW20, Dec 4, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    [​IMG]
    Every year the U.S. National Parks have select dates set aside for "free entrance days".
    I've never taken advantage of this offer but it definitely makes for a great time to plan a visit to a National Park. You'll also save some cash along the way.
    Entry fees are actually pretty reasonable. According to the NPS website "265 of your 398 national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee".
    To show an example of what it costs to visit a national park I'll list the prices for Badlands NP. (Kim, Lucas and I visited the Badlands this past summer during our trip to South Dakota)
    • Private, non-commercial vehicle- $15, valid for 7 days
    • Individual- hike, bicycle- $7, valid for 7 days
    • Motorcycle- $10, valid for 7 days
    • Badlands annual pass- $30, valid one year from month of purchase
    • Annual Pass- $80- covers entry to all national parks, national wildilfe refuges, national forests and many other Federal lands
    2013 Entrance Free Days:
    • January 21- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    • April 22- 26- National Park Week
    • August 25- National Park Service Birthday
    • September 28- National Public Lands Day
    • November 9- 11- Veterans Day Weekend
    The free entrance days covers- entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees.

    Find out more about NPS Free Entrance Days HERE

    (Originally posted to my blog HERE)
     
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  2. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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  3. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    And if you are active duty military, the pass is free. Also includes, Spouse and kids of Active Duty.

    Thanks for the Service, from America.
     
  4. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    Very nice, thanks for the info.
     
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  5. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Ya know, wouldn't it be nice if America's National Parks were free for Americans to visit? Like the Smithsonian, the Mall in Washington and the various memorials, this is hallowed ground - our shared heritage, our nation's story. Seems like we should be encouraging everyone to visit and learn and celebrate as much as they can. Not just on five marketing days of the year.
     
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  6. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    It is actually free for 11 days over 5 different holidays. Free is always better but I do not agree with you.The fees charged for entry are minimal and necessary to keep the parks maintained. I do think foreign tourists should be charged a higher fee than citizens though

    I like the comparison to the sites in DC and have always felt that policy should be changed. All of the sites should be free to US citizens in my opinion. Just like how tourists are charged in other countries, we should charge foreign tourists a small fee (let's say $2-$3 per site). I am sure a lot of money would be raised to help maintain these sites.
     
  7. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Don't know about charging the Foreign Tourists more. I rather enjoyed the Canadian National Parks with the pass that I was able to purchase there at the same price as the Canadians. Seems like turnabout is fair play.

    Besides our National Parks are some of the most spectacular places on the earth. They actually are of "the Earth" and are only located in the United States by chance. Let the "World" enjoy them at the same price as the Americans.
     
  8. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    That's what I am having the wife get me for my birthday this year.
     
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  9. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Good one! I've been telling all of my friends (who are of age ;)) about it. I already got my $10 back with one visit to Olympic National Park (which would have cost $15).
     
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  10. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    We might pay the same price in Canadian Nat Parks but what about all over the world where locals are free or heavily discounted and foreign tourists pay a hefty fee to visit various sites? I don't see why it would be unfair for us to do the same here! (and I'm not suggesting asking a crazy amount of $)
     
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  11. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Michael, your comment has some merit. But if it is set aside as a park it should be as available as possible. Just like there really is no charge for Central Park in NYC. Why should there be a charge for any park? For any person?

    I will agree that there are inconsistencies in use and fees. But many of the costs for National Parks do actually remain in the parks no matter where they are located.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Like the Taj Mahal? I paid the higher fee twice. And frankly I didn't mind too much because the income disparity is just huge. But I hate it when local attractions in the US offer cheaper rates to locals. Makes me feel unwelcome.

    And how do you want to practically check for US citizenship at the entrance of a national park? Do you want to require travel wih a US passport? (a drivers license doesn't prove citizenship).

    And... Don't you want foreign tourists to come to the US to spend money here? When the US started charging an $10 admission fee (tourism promotion fee) to foreign tourists, that caused quite a stir abroad.
     
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  13. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    Many state parks also charge a small user fee and because we're usually from out of state when we visit one, I'm glad to pay a little money to see parks maintained and preserved.

    The amount is only about the same as a few gal of gas....

    DTWBOB
     
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  14. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    Good points.. In regards to Central Park, that is not a national parks service site and there never has been a fee associated with it as far as I know.

    National Parks vary with fees that are charged. The fees are pretty fair and not too pricey. My original comment was in relation to Wombat saying they should all be free just like DC. In regards to his comments I did not agree that all sites should be free and then added how I always felt sites in DC should have a small charge for foreign tourists.
    Just my opinion. I've seen in many places around the world two prices- locals and tourists. Not sure that too many people have complained about the differences...

    Is it fair that we pay $500 to go on a trek to see mountain gorillas in Uganda but citizens pay about $100. Maybe it is, who is to say? If you do not mind due to income disparity maybe you want to finance some of my trips and help me out in the future! :)

    As for how they would check for citizens, no clue. It was just an idea that I had. To make things simple maybe drivers licenses from US states and territories are accepted.
    I can't see a small fee to visit sites as a reason to stop people from visiting the U.S.
    I suggested a fee of $2-3 to visit sites around DC as an example. I think that is pretty fair to ask of a foreign tourist to pay.
     
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  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I think most of us here could afford the $500 if this was something we were interested in doing (it's on my to-do list). I think the price for Ugandans probably doesn't really matter as the vast majority of the population couldn't afford it whether it's $20 or $100 or $500. It's also something that doesn't scale as well as Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. The question of fairness for is whether it's fair to use the price to create a barrier (vs. a lottery)? Different topic, I guess.

    Send me your latest tax return and I'll consider it :D

    The US doesn't require its citizens to have a drivers license or any ID for that matter, as far as I know. So if Bob from England shows up at the Air and Space Museum and claims to be from New England, should the guard at the entrance run a background check on Bob?

    Perhaps. But it all adds up, and since the overall available money for those visitors doesn't increase, maybe they'll spend $3 extra for the ticket and then don't buy the $3 coke in the cafeteria and stick to the water fountain instead. Nothing gained, other than more bureaucracy and ill will.

    I think it's awesome that the Smithsonian museums in DC are free and I would really hate to see that watered down. By the way, there are other museums that are free for all, too. E.g., the British Museum in London. I'd rather see more than fewer museums go that route. And it's not because I can't afford the fee (my Smithsonian membership expired earlier in the year and I need to renew).
     
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  16. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Having all agreed that we need a mechanism to collect money from locals and from tourists to cover the costs of the parks, let's think about the mechanism. Could I be so bold as to suggest taxes? :p That would be about $6 per US citizen per year, which would cover all the National Parks! (And state parks could follow suit, with say a $6 fee added to motor vehicle license plate renewals (which is what we do here in Montana, with an opt-out system if folks don't want to pay)). Then, for tourists we could collect the tax added on to arrivals into the U.S., or as a bed-tax. Both these systems are sure cheaper and easier to implement than having someone with their hand out everytime you want to visit a park!

    Oh, and if they want to take out a membership then all the better. They might feel so inclined after having been so warmly welcomed!
     
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Careful, we in California have had governors recalled (Terminator'ed) over the vehicle license fee. :D

    I'd be perfectly happy to add six dollars to my annual tax bill for free access to National Parks. That's less than the $80 I pay now for the annual pass.
     
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  18. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    We did the mountain gorilla trek in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and as pricey as it was, it was well worth the $$$ and I would love to do it again in DRC or Rwanda. The point I am making still is what makes it right for foreigners to pay but locals get a huge discount?

    Either way I highly doubt the US will ever charge fees or do a system with fees differing for tourists. (all of the logistics of it I am not going to bother worrying about here)
    I don't want to pay any more taxes at this point! I want tourists taking advantage of our great, free sites to just help out a little bit with the costs!
     
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  19. skyvan

    skyvan Gold Member

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    Many countries charge more for foreigners for attractions and parks, East Africa countries including Rwanda and Tanzania charge more for foreigners at national parks and Turkey and Thailand are just two examples of countries that charge more for foreigners at attractions and historical sites.
     

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