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In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all parks and historic sites. You don’t even have to be Canadian to enjoy the free pass!

But you do need Parks Canada’s Discovery Pass. You can order the pass online, and Parks Canada will mail it to you. I just ordered mine today. My wife and I may or may not visit Canada again in 2017, but it will certainly be nice to have the pass in the event we do. The Canadian park at the top of my list is exquisite Banff National Park.


A couple things to note:

  • The free 2017 Discovery Pass does not cover camping or other recreational fees.
  • You only need one pass per group or family, as long as everyone is traveling together.

My guess is that Parks Canada may let you in even if you don’t order your free Discovery Pass. But that is not something I would risk, considering it is so easy to get one. Ordering took me all of 90 seconds.

What about in the U.S.?

In the United States, there are a total of 10 days on which you can get free admission to 137 different park sites that normally charge entrance fees:

  • Monday, January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Monday, February 20: Presidents Day
  • Saturday and Sunday, April 15-16 and
  • Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23: Weekends around National Park Week
  • Friday, August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • Saturday, September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

Remember that there is also a lifetime pass available for seniors (62+) for $10, but this price is going up to $80. It is unclear when this change will happen, so I suggest you purchase the lifetime pass now, if you are eligible. It is an incredible bargain! The senior lifetime pass gets the pass holder and their entire car full of people into the park.

If you are considering visiting several U.S. National Parks in 2017 and don’t want to plan around the free dates, consider simply buying an annual pass for $80. Or take your 4th grader along with you (SEEEvery Kid in a Park – Free National Park access for families) up through August 2017. Just be aware it may not get you into every park completely free (SEE: Every National Park free? Not THIS one).

Do you think you’ll take advantage of the free pass options to see some National Parks in 2017?

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