Every 4th grader in the US can apply here to get a free National Parks pass for the school year. In 2015, we got the American the Beautiful Annual Pass when we went on a big trip to Yellowstone, hitting National Parks in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. That year we got a lot of use out of our $80 pass. This year (and next), I hope to get a lot of use out of our free pass with our 4th grader(s)!
Planning Your Trips
You can plan a big trip, hitting multiple National Parks in one go, visit a National Park within another trip, or plan several smaller trips to National Parks in your area. We are lucky to live in Arizona, where there are no less than 15 National Parks, the most of any state (that charge a fee).
While there are many things to do in every National Park, the one thing my kids love to do is to collect Junior Ranger Badges. They have over 20 and counting! Most badges are awarded after the Junior Ranger has completed an activity booklet and taken an oath to uphold the ideals of the National Parks. One of our badges from Hawaii was extra special since it was a limited edition wooden one commemorating the National Park Centennial. Another was from a park so remote that the Ranger there actually scratched serial numbers into the back of each badge.
Free Entrance Days
Before our Yellowstone trip, we did several National Parks tours on holidays that offered free entrance. We were able to knock out three or four in one day by driving around our state collecting badges. The only ones we haven’t done in our own state are Organ Pipe and Tonto.
National Parks Spreadsheet
Since I am who I am, I compiled a list of all of the National Parks and Monuments that charge an entrance fee that may be covered by the pass. Get out there and enjoy your National Parks!