By Patricia Doherty
May 09, 2018
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America’s national parks have always been beautiful, but from new glamping options and guided hikes to private tours and farm-to-table dining experiences, there are tons of exciting reasons to visit in summer 2018. However, while many national parks remain free, 117 sites will be increasing entrance fees beginning June 1.

Fee increases will not be as dramatic as proposed by the U.S. National Park Service last fall due to public backlash; instead of doubling fees, they will be increasing by an average of about $5. There are four days a year when all the parks are free, but none of them are during the summer months. The next free day in 2018 is September 22.

Though there’s never a bad time to visit our spectacular national parks, what better way to spend an incredible family summer vacation? Wherever you live or travel, there’s likely a spot nearby that offers impressive sights and an educational experience.

Activities abound: In addition to hiking, fishing, and camping, there are helicopter and train rides, horseback riding, mountain climbing, sand dune sledding, cave tours, whitewater rafting and so much more.

Related: How to Have a Great Summer Vacation

Whether you’re in search of an enriching getaway with the kids, an invigorating experience with friends, or an adventure to cross off your bucket list, look no further than our awe-inspiring national parks. Here’s what you’ll pay this summer at the top 10 most popular U.S. national parks.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Stretching 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, there is no fee to travel the scenic parkway.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

This collection of locales in and around San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay area is free with the exception of Muir Woods, where guests 16 and older will pay a $10 fee. Admission to Alcatraz is free though the ferry charges a fee.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, there is no entrance fee.

Gateway National Recreation Area

Encompassing areas in New York and New Jersey, including the New York City boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, there are no entrance fees, but parking fees apply during the summer months.

Lincoln Memorial

This national monument honoring Abraham Lincoln is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and no fees apply.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Located in southeastern Nevada and northwestern Arizona, entrance fees range from $15-$25.

George Washington Memorial Parkway

This 25-mile roadway situated almost entirely in Virginia with small portions in D.C. and Maryland charges no fess with the exception of $5-$10 at Great Falls Park.

Natchez Trace Parkway

Running 444 miles through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, there is no entrance fee.

Grand Canyon National Park

Located in northwestern Arizona, entrance fees range from $20-$35.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This two-acre national memorial in Washington, D.C. charges no fee.

To see the fees charged at the other 407 U.S. national parks and historic and cultural sites, visit