There are five magical days per year when the possibilities are endless, the views are breathtaking, and the National Park entrance fees are waived. For the 2019 calendar, these days fall on January 2 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 20 (the first day of National Park Week), August 25 (the National Park Service’s birthday), September 28 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).
There are 28 national parks throughout California, making it possible to experience the best of every climate and region of the state. Whether you want to see the sparkling seascapes of the Channel Islands in Ventura; the salt flats of Death Valley (the largest national park in the contiguous United States); the untamed wilderness and vivid sunset skies of Joshua Tree; or the giant sequoias, billowing waterfalls, and granite cliffs of Yosemite, you can do anything in the Golden State. With the five free days spread throughout the year, there is a great opportunity to see the same park in every season or to experience a range of different parks across the state. With over 40 million visitors to California’s national parks last year alone, it is clear that outdoor recreation is popular—and the preservation of the state’s natural and cultural resources is vital.
While some parks offer free entrance all year long, the national parks in California that normally charge a fee but participate in the free-entrance days are:
- Cabrillo National Monument
- Death Valley National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Lava Beds National Monument
- Muir Woods National Monument
- Pinnacles National Park
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
- Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
- Yosemite National Park
Please note that the entrance-fee waiver does not include any additional fees such as parking fees, camping costs, boat launch fees, transportation, or special tours. Additionally, as with all shared lands, it is important to take out what is brought in, avoid littering, and resist damaging the lands, so that they may live on for generations to come.