How to visit the National Parks in Canada & USA for free?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (February 10, 2017): Travel tip: How to visit the National Parks in Canada and USA for free?

My fascination for luxury travel pales in comparison to my travel passion for trekking in the great outdoors and being at one with nature. Yes, I still prefer a simple cabin in a grandiose wilderness spot over a luxury hotel. And when it comes to natural splendor, it’s hard to beat the wilderness experiences to be found in the National Parks of Canada and the USA.

Last summer, I enjoyed a(nother) terrific holiday in the Canadian Rockies, a pristine wilderness areas on a scale difficult to imagine. Few places in the world offer such a diverse range of scenery and activities, from kayaking and spectacular drives to backcountry hiking and wildlife spotting. I previously shared with you the top 10 best sights and activities in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Park, as well as my top 10 list of the best hotels & lodges in the Canadian Rockies (which includes several trip reports and Youtube clips).

MORAINE LAKE, BANFF NATIONAL PARK, CANADA

MORAINE LAKE, BANFF NATIONAL PARK, CANADA

I have previously visited most of the USA National Parks, and I am going back this summer. The crown jewels of the USA’s National Park system are all located in the West, with the most famous ones being Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park (wildlife, mountains, geysers), Yosemite National Park (mountains, valleys), Glacier National Park (mountains and grizzlies), and Grand Canyon National Park (canyons). Hawaii and Alaska also boast some national parks that offer otherworldly scenery. The USA’s National Parks rank on quite a few of my to 10 travel lists:

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, USA

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, USA

This year might be the best time ever to visit the natural splendor of Canada and the USA, since it’s possible to visit their famous National Parks for free. Here’s how to do it: 

Visit Canada’s National Parks for free

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017 and to commemorate the milestone, the government of Canada has a very special gift in store for all Canadian and international visitors: admission to all Canadian national parks is free for the entire year to everyone. But you’re going to need an access pass which you can order from the Parks Canada website (they will ship it to you for free to anywhere in the world). Please note:

  • You only need to order one pass for your group or family if you are all traveling together. A 2017 Discovery Pass is valid for everyone arriving in the same vehicle at a national park, or arriving together at a marine conservation area or historic site.
  • The Discovery Pass is only accepted at national historic sites which are operated by Parks Canada.
  • Activities such as tours or parking that normally carry a separate fee may not be covered by the Discovery Pass.
  • Camping fees are not included with the Discovery Pass
  • Validity Period: January 1st 2017 to December 31st 2017.
  • Display: The 2017 Discovery Pass must be hung from the rear view mirror of the vehicle facing forward or it can be placed on the front driver side dashboard facing up.
Visit the USA’s National Parks for free
The USA National Park Service just turned 100 years old. To celebrate the start of their second century, the USA National Park Service will offer free admission to everyone during a couple of days in 2017. The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the 120 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee. The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

So, you should mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2017:

  • February 20: Presidents’ Day
  • 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

Enjoy the weekend and stay tuned for Monday when I reveal a new top 10 travel list.


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