Originally posted on 10/5/2018
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. In 2018, we went on a big National Parks trip with our daughter’s pass, and now our son is in fourth grade, so we’ll get another pass!
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 30 now and plan to add more! 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 (Fossil Butte) 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. There is one remaining free date left in 2019: Veterans Day on November 11.
Our National Parks List
We’ve visited quite a few National Parks on our travels. Find our list below. An asterisk means that the kids earned a Junior Ranger Badge there as well.
- *Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
- *Alcatraz Island
- Arches National Park
- *Bryce Canyon National Park
- *Cabrillo National Monument
- *Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
- *Cedar Breaks National Monument
- *Crater Lake National Park
- *Dinosaur National Monument
- *Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Navajo Bridge)
- *Grand Canyon National Park (North & South Rim)
- *Grand Teton National Park
- *Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
- *Hubbell Trading Post
- *Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
- *Lassen Volcanic National Park
- *Lava Beds National Monument
- *Mesa Verde National Park
- *Montezuma Castle National Monument
- National Mall National Park sites
- Petrified Forest National Park
- *Pipe Spring National Monument
- *Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
- *Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
- *Rocky Mountain National Park
- *Saguaro National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- *Stanislaus National Forest
- *Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
- *Tumacácori National Monument
- *Tuzigoot National Monument
- *Walnut Canyon National Monument
- *Wupatki National Monument
- *Yellowstone National Park
- Yosemite National Park
National Parks Spreadsheet
Since I am who I am, I compiled a spreadsheet 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!