This Monday is one of the free National Park days for 2017. In 2017 there are the following days that are free to go to a National Park.
- January 16: Martin Luther King Day
- February 20: Presidents’ Day
- April 15-16, 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day weekend
Of course, we are past the January date. Since the National Parks are underfunded and having record attendance year after year, I am not sure if free days are needed. But, I suppose it is a great way for people to visit a National Park who haven’t before.
According to recently released statistics from the National Park Service, over 330 million visits were made to National Park Service sites in 2016. This was 7% higher than in 2015. While the Great Smoky Mountains were again the most visited National Park in 2016 with over 11 million visits, the highest visited Park System site was the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California with over 15 million visits.
Windmill in Golden Gate National Recreation Area
If you want to get away from the crowds, some of the least visited parks in 2016 were the Alaska National Parks like Gates of the Arctic and Lake Clark. In the continental US, you can avoid the crowds are Isle Royale and North Cascades. All of these measure their annual visits in the thousands instead of the millions.