Did you know ALL fourth graders can get a FREE pass to visit hundreds of National Parks in America for themselves and their families??
It’s a great deal and something worth taking advantage of and planning around when you consider the cost of visiting national parks and family vacations. As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned! This is a government program that is intended to get kids and their families to visit America’s parks, lands and waters and encourage education along the way.
If you don’t have a fourth grader yet, no worries—this is something that is available every school year for all fourth graders and their families. (However, if you had a fourth grader in the past who missed out on this opportunity, sorry…you won’t be able to get a pass for them. 🙁 )
*NOTE: This year only (2021), 5th graders can ALSO get a pass since last year was not a typical year due to the pandemic. Their pass would also be good until 8/31/21.*
If you have a child who is currently in fourth grade, it’s not too late to get your pass and use it this spring or summer, but hurry, it will expire on 8/31/2021! According to the website, it says that no matter where you live in the United States, there is a site you can visit within two hours of your home, so you don’t have to travel far.
If you have a child who is going into fourth grade next school year, mark your calendar! You will be able to get your pass for them as of Sept 1st and you will be able to use it for a full year, until August 31st of the following year!
If you have future fourth graders, it will be this same cycle every year and you can use it for multiple kids in your family. For instance, we used this a couple of years for our daughter who was in fourth grade when we visited Mount Rushmore and the Badlands and now we’re planning to use it again this year for our current fourth grader to visit the Grand Canyon. Mark your calendars for all of your kids so you don’t forget about it!
The pass is typically good for your fourth grader (or home-school equivalent), any/all kids in your family up to age 17 and up to 3 adults!!
Here’s how it works & some things you need to know:
1.) Visit everykidoutdoors.gov
2.) Have your fourth grader complete the survey/info
3.) You will need to print your pass and you must bring the printed pass to get into parks. You may NOT use an electronic copy. You cannot make copies of your pass and give to friends as each one has a unique code.
4.) If you lose your pass, you can get another one by completing the online process again.
5.) You can use the pass over and over until it expires, visiting as many national parks that are included in the program as you would like.
6. ) Plan your trip using the resources on their website here.
Once you have your pass and plan your trip, here’s what you do when you arrive at your destination(s):
- Show your pass to a ranger when you enter. If there is no ranger, leave it on the dashboard of your car.
- If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person— The pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free.
- If your group visits a site that charges vehicle entrance fees – The pass admits all children under 16 and all adults in up to one passenger vehicle. Commercial vehicles can’t use a pass to get in.
- If you arrive at a site on bicycle— The pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults on bicycles.
- The pass doesn’t cover things like parking fees, camping, boats, and special tours. Also, some sites are managed by private operators. They may not honor the pass. Check with the site ahead of time to find out.
- The pass doesn’t cover fees for local, city, or state parks and recreation areas unless they say that they accept this pass.
- Paper passes can be exchanged for plastic passes at certain sites.
There are hundreds of parks, lands and waters you can visit. There may be a location near you that you didn’t even realize existed, so make sure you check out your options.
If you are a fourth grade teacher, or know one, they can print passes for each of their students, so it’s great for them to know about the program as well. Find out more or share it with them here.
Please comment below if you’ve used the program in the past, if this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it and/or if you plan to take advantage of it in the future.