National Parks are my family’s go-to destination spots – we plan all of our road trips around them so we can continue our Junior Ranger badge tradition with the kids.  Every year in January I try to plan vacations and weekend visits for the whole year – a bucket list of sorts – based on NPS sites across the nation we haven’t visited yet. The kids have earned almost 75 Junior Ranger badges since we started our JR project with many more on our list to acquire.

No matter your age, Nation Parks offer something for everyone.  As the new year begins there will be some changes for National Parks travelers as well as some free offerings for international and domestic park travel.


I was excited to jump on this free offer from Parks Canada. In honor of Parks Canada’s 150th birthday you can score a free Parks Pass.  That’s right visit Parks Canada to request the pass valid for travel in 2017.  This is a significant freebie, with many of their national parks located just across the boarder from major US cites.

Simply fill out the form and add to cart.  Shipping is free and should arrive within 6 to 8 weeks.  Standard passport requirements apply.

United States:

Annual pass price increase for seniors:

The National Park System will increase the cost of the senior annual pass from $10 to $80 starting some time in 2017, according to a recent update from The price increase will make the senior pass the same as the America the Beautiful pass. The free military membership offer will remain the same, as will the free membership for families with a fourth-grade aged child.

If you’re 62 years old or older and haven’t purchased one, go ahead and do so as soon as possible.  The pass is valid for a lifetime though, so there is longevity in your investment.

To purchase a membership do so online here.  You can also purchase the pass at select visitor centers across the NPS system.

Free admission days for National Parks:

The 2017 dates are the same as always, but in case you missed them here they are in order:

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 20: Presidents’ Day

April 15-16 and 22-23

August 25: National Park Service Birthday

September 30: National Public Lands Day

November 11-12: Veterans Day

Keep in mind admission is normally free at most parks, monuments and historical sites however there are 124 locations that do charge an entrance fee.
First Day Hike, Jan. 1:

National and state parks across the nation will host events Jan. 1 to encourage hiking all year.
Go here to find a state park in your area hosting a First Day Hike.

Go here to find a NPS site in your area hosting an event.

Technically you don’t need an event to hike, mainly the events are mainly just special ranger led hikes.