Cougar Ridge

The National Park Service Announces Their 2024 Free Entrance Days

Dec 7, 2023 | Capitol Reef National Park, National Parks | 0 comments

The National Park Service was created on August 25, 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson. From that time forward, the NPS has been responsible for maintaining national parks and monuments across the country. Today, there are 428 sites managed by the NPS, including 63 national parks.

Managing these properties and keeping them open for the millions of annual guests that visit them is no small task—and no small cost. To offset the cost of maintaining these parks, many national parks and some other NPS sites charge an entrance fee. The fees vary from one park to the next, ranging from $20 to $35 per vehicle.

If you’re planning a stay at the best resort Utah has to offer, you’ll be within a few hour’s drive of several national parks that charge an entrance fee. The closest park to Cougar Ridge, of course, is Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef charges an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle, or $10 per person for those entering on foot.

If you’re looking to save on your next visit to Capitol Reef, you have a few options. One is the National Park Service’s Free Entrance Days.

What are the NPS Free Entrance Days?

Each year, the National Park Service announces a few days when entrance fees are suspended at all NPS sites. This includes any national parks, national battlefields, and other destinations that charge an entrance fee.

The NPS has announced that in 2024, they will once again be hosting six Free Entrance Days. Those days include:

  • January 15
  • April 20
  • June 19
  • August 4
  • September 28
  • November 11

Each of these dates represents a holiday or a date that is significant to the National Park Service.

January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. April 20 marks the start of National Park Week. June 19 is Juneteenth National Independence Day. August 4 is the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, which was passed in 2020 and provides funding to improve infrastructure and expand recreation opportunities in national parks and other public lands. September 28 is National Public Lands Day, while November 11, the final Free Entrance Day of 2024, is Veterans Day.

On each of these dates, the entrance fee for all NPS sites is waived. This only applies to entrance fees. Any other costs, like camping or other recreation fees, still apply. Most entrance passes for national parks include entrance to that park for seven consecutive days. But on the Free Entrance Days, guests enjoy access for only that date.

Are Free Entrance Days the Best Time to Visit National Parks?

The National Park Service’s Free Entrance Days can be a great way for families to save a little money while enjoying one of our nation’s national parks. However, if you’re planning a vacation at lodges in Utah, plan to visit multiple parks during your stay, or want to enjoy the parks with fewer crowds, these might not be the best dates to visit.

To start, the Free Entrance Days tend to draw a crowd to the national parks, as many people want to take advantage of these savings. In addition, many of the Free Entrance Days coincide with holidays that are popular for enjoying getaways. This can mean more crowding on popular trails, at visitor centers, and other busy spots in the parks.

It’s also impossible to explore all that a park like Capitol Reef has to offer in just one day. We recommend booking a minimum of seven days at the best resort Utah has to offer to truly enjoy the park. This gives you time to enjoy the many different areas of the park and the best trails, while still enjoying plenty of time to rest up and enjoy our ridge resort’s many amenities. If you plan to visit for more than one day, you’ll wind up paying $20 for the seven-day entrance pass anyway.

A National Park Annual Pass Can Help You Save

If you know that you want to enjoy day trips to other national parks during your stay at lodges in Utah, like Arches National Park, you’ll need to pay a separate entrance fee for that park as well. If you do plan to visit multiple national parks during your stay at ridge resorts, or if you know that you’ll visit other national parks in the next year, a better way to save money is to purchase a national park annual pass.

For just $80, the America the Beautiful Pass provides access to all NPS sites for one year. The pass allows entry for one cardholder and up to three guests. Each card can have two named cardholders.

You can purchase this pass at the entrance to Capitol Reef during your stay in the best resort Utah has to offer, or at any other entrance to a national park that charges a fee. Or, you can purchase your pass online ahead of your trip.

Planning Your Stay at the Best Resort Utah Has to Offer

While the NPS Free Entrance Days can help you save some money, they might not be the best choice for your next stay at Cougar Ridge. But an annual pass can be a great way to save some cash during your stay, and allow you to explore even more national parks during your getaway.

Ready to start planning your next stay at the best resort Utah has to offer? Now is a great time to book your stay! From now until February 29, 2024, when you book a stay of two or more nights, you’ll receive a 40 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of these savings!

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