Wilderness Awaits: 4th Graders Enjoy Free National Park Access

The Every Kid Outdoors pass for fourth graders is good Sept. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2024

By Michelle Holly, publisher of Macaroni KID Winter Garden-Ocoee, Fla. August 28, 2023

My family enjoys exploring the National Parks around the country. We've recently visited Joshua Tree National Park in California and Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. It's amazing how diverse the American national parks system is with more than 400 of them to visit! 

The author and her daughter at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Free national park entry for fourth graders and their families 

Have a fourth-grader? Then here's some good news: Fourth graders and their families receive FREE entry to hundreds of national parks, recreation areas, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges.

This program, known as Every Kid Outdoors, is run by the United States National Park Service and allows fourth-graders and their families free entry to some of America's most dazzling national lands, from the St. Louis Arch to the Florida Keys.

To grab this free pass, all fourth-graders have to do to is complete an online adventure diary. The most current pass is valid Sept. 1, 2023, through Aug. 31, 2024. Find out more and sign up for this free program now!

As a fourth-grader with a voucher or pass, the student, and anyone in the vehicle with the child, is admitted for free at sites that charge per vehicle. If visiting a site that charges per person, up to three accompanying adults will be admitted free with a fourth grader with a pass. If the fourth grader and his or her family are riding bikes, up to three accompanying adults are included too. The fourth-grader must be present to use the pass.

The Every Kid Outdoors program is designed to give all families a chance to get out and explore our amazing country ... and it can save you some serious money on your next vacation!

Encourage kids to become junior rangers

We recently visited Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota and bought a passport so my daughter can stamp each park she visits. She also became a Junior Ranger while visiting Voyageurs! The Junior Ranger program is free, educational, and also available online. Kids complete activities in a booklet designed for that particular National Park, and then take an oath to protect the parks. It was such a sweet moment to watch! 

Working on their junior ranger booklets at Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.

Involving children and families in such meaningful ways is part of the National Park Service's mission. Established on August 25, 1916, it was created to "preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations."

The National Parks are a great way to get kids (and you!) outside, to enjoy nature, and to be mindful of our environment. 

Make it a goal to visit a National Park this year with your family! It's a chance to have fun together, soak in the beauty of nature, and maybe even start a tradition that'll last for generations.

Michelle Holly is the publisher of Macaroni KID Winter Garden-Ocoee, Fla.