Most national parks are back up and running at full capacity this year, which means it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful parks around us.

Depending on where you live, going to national parks can get expensive — especially if you have to book a hotel or do an overnight stay.

One thing that could help make it more affordable is going when there aren’t park fees.

“National parks are America’s best idea, and there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day,” the National Park Service wrote on its website. “The fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite, especially one of the national parks that normally charge an entrance fee.”

Here are the free entry days for 2023:

  • April 22 — First day of National Park Week.
  • Aug. 4 — Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
  • Sept. 23 — National Public Lands Day.
  • Nov. 11 — Veterans Day.
Clouds swirl across the big Texas sky at Big Bend National Park in Texas on March 2, 2021. Visitation to the park has risen 50% since 2016. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

Make sure to plan early and understand that if you go on free entry days, the park will likely be somewhat crowded. According to CNN, tourism visits to Big Bend National Park have increased 50% compared to 2016.

Other ways to get into national parks for free or at a discount

If those dates don’t work for you, there are other options to get free entry or at least a discount.

National Park Senior Pass

This works for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 or over. If that fits you, you can buy a lifetime parks pass that will provide entry into any national parks for the rest of your life. No need to renew or pay any additional fees. The senior pass costs $80.

You can always buy the pass in the park, but here’s where to apply if you want to do it online.

If you don’t want the lifetime pass, but you still meet those requirements — at least 62 years old, U.S. citizen or permanent resident — you can purchase an annual pass for $20, according to Reader’s Digest.

You can also buy the pass in the park, but here’s where to apply if you want to do it online.

Fourth grade pass

In American curriculum, most fourth graders learn more extensive state history at that age. Because of this, fourth graders are encouraged to explore the outdoors around their state, which is why a free pass is offered that works through the fourth grader’s first year of school, plus the summer after fourth grade. Here’s where to learn more about the fourth graders pass.

Military discount

If you are a U.S. military veteran with a veteran ID, you can get a Military Lifetime Pass. The pass also applies to Gold Star families with a valid Gold Star Family Voucher.

Access Pass

The Access Pass is also a lifetime pass and applies to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have permanent disabilities. You have to provide documentation regarding permanent disability, as well as for residency or citizenship to get the pass.

Volunteer Pass

Anyone can work toward this one, but it does require some hard work — volunteer work. The Volunteer Pass is an annual pass that provides free entry for volunteers who complete 250 service hours with federal agencies that are part of the Interagency Pass Program.