free national parks

From now until the end of this school year, 4th graders and their families will be granted free access to all national parks across the country. This is made possible through “Every Kid Outdoors” — a program that promotes students to explore and gain awareness of national parks. 

Although our oldest national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872, the National Park Foundation was created almost 100 years later in 1967. Since its creation, the nonprofit has provided the necessary means to protect, improve, and advocate for these historic landmarks. 

The organization “Every Kid Outdoors” began in 2015, as a way to celebrate and provide accessibility to our national parks. In this effort, the goal is to teach children the power, value, and pure enchantment of nature.

The National Park Foundation chose 4th Graders for a few specific reasons. Every child can take home priceless knowledge after visiting a national park; however, nine to eleven year-olds are especially primed for such experiences. 

At this stage of development and education, students are getting a better sense of their global environment, building knowledge about national history, and forming new ideas about nature’s role in their everyday lives. 

Since the first year of operation, this program has continually catered to 4th Graders. This consistency is also intentional — it allows for every student to eventually get a turn. 

Terms do apply to this beneficial promotion. When it comes to family members, this includes every person in the vehicle you arrive in. If you’re traveling by a different mode of transportation, the pass includes all children under 16 and a maximum of three adults. 

To register for admission, simply head to the “Every Kid Outdoors” website. From there, students and their family members can print paper passes. These passes grant entry to any national park for an entire school year. With that being said, this does not include additional fees for parking, camping, or tours.

There are over 2,000 national parks and recreation sites across the US, and Texas is home to several great sites, including:

  • Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
  • Amistead National Recreation Area
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Big Thicket National Preserve
  • Chamizal National Memorial
  • El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
  • Fort Davis National Historic Park
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  • Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
  • Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
  • Padre Island National Seashore
  • Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
  • Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
  • San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
  • Waco Mammoth National Monument