To celebrate the connection between people and open spaces for National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service will be waiving admission to all of its sites on Sept. 26.

By Rachel Chang
September 21, 2020
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On select days in 2020, the National Park Service welcomes visitors to all of its parks — including those that normally charge an entry fee — for free. And one of those days is this Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, for National Public Lands Day.

The annual commemoration, which started in 1994, is held on the fourth Saturday of September and “celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits,” according to the National Park Service’s site. It also usually marks the biggest volunteer day of the year.

Organized with the National Environmental Education Foundation, along with the Departments of Interior, Army, and Agriculture, the holiday encourages Americans to bond with nature by joining a volunteer project, enjoying the benefits of being outdoors, and, of course, visiting a national park for free.

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Parks which usually charge an admission fee, including Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Joshua Tree National Park in California, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico, will invite visitors in with complimentary entry. (Check the full list for participating parks.)

Additionally, special events are normally held, but since concerns from COVID-19 have limited the number of gatherings, this year’s National Public Lands Day will include both in-person and virtual events, with the theme of “More Ways to Connect with Nature.” In-person events include the Great Mississippi River Clean-up at Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Lake Mead Clean-up at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Boulder City, Nevada, and the Biscayne Beach Paddlecraft Clean-up at Biscayne National Park in Homestead, Florida, while virtual events include BioBlitz at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and a Park People chat with experts at Mesa Verde National Park.

This is just one of several days this year that the National Park Service invites guests in fee-free. The other remaining day will be Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.