If you’re planning to visit the stunning US national parks in 2022, watch out for the 5 days of free admission that the National Park Service (SPF) will give away. Although many sites are free to visit all year round, others — including the most popular national parks — have increasingly pricey entrance fees. The open days are intended to encourage Americans to visit the more than 400 federal park sites in the country.
1. Free days
The first free day will be on Monday, 17 January, MLK Jr. Day. The second will be on Saturday 16 April, First Day of National Park Week. The third free admission day will be in the peak of the summer, on Thursday, 4 August, the Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act. The fourth free day will be on Saturday, September 24, National Public Lands Day and finally, the last day when people can freely access US national parks will be on Friday, 11 November, on Veterans Day.
Regardless of the day you plan to throw yourself into the wild, the SPF encourages everyone to plan ahead of time and to take into account the still existing sanitary measures, which include masking rules, irrespective of Covid-19 vaccination status.
2. US natural treasures
On a yearly basis, millions of visitors travel to the myriad of US national parks to enjoy the natural beauty and its awe-inspiring landscapes. In the year 2020 alone, the NPS said that 237 million people have visited US national parks. That figure has skyrocketed in 2021, as millions of Americans were longing to get outside, after months of isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last July, the Yellowstone National Park, located mostly in Wyoming, has reported the busiest month in park history, with over 1 million visits. Also, the first national park to be signed into law by the then US President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1872.
3. Sustainable tourism
Parks have been taking precautions to avoid overcrowding, not only to protect against Covid-19 infections but to safeguard the natural beauty of the national parks. For example, Arches National Park, in Utah, is developing a new timed ticketed entry system to limit mass attendance and overtourism. As for the Zion National Park, it is implementing a new lottery system for the Angels Landing site.
National parks are designated for their natural beauty, unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. All units of the National Park System are considered equal with the same mission, however, national parks are generally larger and more of a destination, where hunting and extractive activities are not allowed.