Free national parks entry for 33rd annual National Public Lands Day

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Visitors gather near Delicate Arch at Arches National Park. For five days in 2023, each of the national parks across the U.S. are free to enter. (National Parks Service)

Entry to national parks across the country is free on Sept. 23 to celebrate the 33rd annual National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, National Public Lands Day has traditionally been the largest single-day volunteer effort of the year. Established in 1994, it is held annually on the fourth Saturday in September.

According to the website, “hundreds of thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves to help restore and preserve public lands of all types and sizes — from iconic national parks and rivers to local urban green spaces and everything in between.”

Sept. 23 is the fourth entrance fee-free day in 2023. One more entrance fee-free day will occur in 2023 on Nov. 11 for Veterans Day. Entrance fees are still required to enter national parks during the rest of the year.

According to the National Park Service website, only the entrance fee is waived for this day. Other fees associated with cabin rentals, overnight camping, group day use, tours and use of special areas remain in effect.

Jonathan Shafer, Public Affairs Specialist for Zion National Park, said the National Park Service is glad to welcome visitors at Zion National Park every day of the year.

Free entrance days in national parks provide great opportunities to visit new places or revisit favorite destinations,” Shafer said. “If Zion is on your itinerary, remember that no matter what day you visit, it’s important to check the forecast, dress in layers and to bring and drink plenty of water.”

BYU sophomore Halle Caviness did not realize that there were free days available for visitors to enter national parks. She said she would have tried to go if she had known about the free entry days earlier this year.

“If I would have known about the waived entry fee, I definitely would have tried to make some type of plans to go,” Caviness said.

She has been to Zion National Park in the past, but had to use a family pass to enter the park. Caviness said she would be interested in going to the parks this month.

“If I would be able to work around it, then I would want to go during the free days,” Caviness said.

BYU junior Caleb Jensen said he has been to Arches National Park, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. He said he loves to be outdoors when he can. He went to Arches National Park with his family in June of this year.

“It’s definitely worth the experience if you have the opportunity,” Jensen said.

Jensen was also unaware of the free entry days at the national parks across the U.S. He said he would keep future free entry days on his radar when planning future activities.

“It’s nice to know that there are opportunities given to go to these national parks for free,” Jensen said.

There are five national parks in Utah, along with one historic national park, six national monuments and four national historic trails.

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