Entry to Big Bend, Padre Island National Seashore and other national parks will be free on Saturday

National Park Week is April 20-28

Padre Island National Seashore.

The National Park Service will have free entry to parks and other sites on Saturday to celebrate National Park Week and Earth Day.

National Park Week is happening from April 20 to April 28, meaning parks, programs and partners will have events and activities to promote the outdoors and cultural heritage. It coincides with Earth Day on Monday.

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Entrance fees will be waived at NPS sites on Saturday, April 20, to kick off the celebration and encourage people to visit a new park. Fees will still apply for camping, boat launches, transportation, special tours or other activities.

Not every national park has an entrance fee — more than 300 of 400 national parks are free — but those that do charge can cost between $10 and $35 per person. The revenue supports park upgrades, ranger programs, the restoration of wildlife habitats, maintenance and more.

There are 14 national parks in Texas, including the popular Big Bend National Park, Padre Island National Seashore and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

San Antonio is home to the four NPS sites — Missions Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada, located on the South Side along the San Antonio River. The Missions are also the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas.

The Missions have free entry every day of the year. In Texas, the national parks that do have an entry fee are:

Each day of National Park Week has a specific theme. Here are the themed days for 2024 (descriptions provided by NPS):

  • Saturday, April 20: Discovery. What will you discover? A new place, a new interesting fact, a new activity... To kick off National Park Week and encourage you to make that new discovery, entrance fees are waived on April 20!
  • Sunday, April 21: Volunteers. Use your time and talents as a volunteer in your national parks. Find opportunities to volunteer for a single event or long-term position.
  • Monday, April 22: Earth Day. Join the global celebration encouraging education and stewardship of the planet’s natural resources. Many parks are hosting volunteer events. You can also find ways to practice conservation at home.
  • Tuesday, April 23: Innovation. History of our nation’s innovation is preserved in national parks. Also learn about the innovative projects happening in parks or through our programs today.
  • Wednesday, April 24: Workforce Wednesday. Meet our incredible workforce of employees, interns, fellows, volunteers, contractors, partners, and more. Consider joining our team!
  • Thursday, April 25: Youth Engagement. Calling the rising generation of stewards! Learn about the opportunities for youth and young adults to get involved and see what your peers are up to.
  • Friday, April 26: Community Connections. Learn about the important work our programs and partners are doing in communities across the country both within and outside of our park boundaries.
  • Saturday, April 27: Junior Ranger Day. For kids (and kids at heart), become a Junior Ranger through in-person or online activities to learn about special places or topics. You may even earn a Junior Ranger badge!
  • Sunday, April 28: Arts in Parks. Home of many arts past and present, find your muse creating arts within parks. Also learn about preserving and practicing arts in your communities through the work of our programs and partners.

Click here for more information on Earth Day at NPS and National Park Week.

If you’re unable to make it to a national park on Saturday, NPS has additional entrance fee-free days for 2024:

People who want to visit national parks several days out of the year can buy the $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which covers entry at more than 2,000 federal recreation areas and national parks.

NPS also offers a variety of discounts for certain people, like members of the military, fourth-grade students, individuals with permanent disabilities, and senior citizens.

Read more:

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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