Only 133 of our country's 401 national parks usually charge an entrance fee (ranging from $3 to $25), but on the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday— January 20, 2014 — all national parks are FREE! The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees, but fees for reservations, camping, tours, concessions and fees collected by third parties are not waived unless stated. Most Americans live within a few hours of a national park, so now is the time to take a day trip.
If you’d like to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in a special way, you can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, or the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama. Although not a national park, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama is open for tours, and is the place Dr. King began his quest for civil rights.
If you’re near Washington, DC, visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It was dedicated on August 28, 2011, the anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This is the first memorial on the National Mall devoted, not to a United States President or war hero, but a citizen activist for civil rights and peace. Master Lei Yikin is the sculptor of the Stone of Hope. Several parks across the country will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service—the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.
Mark your calendars for these additional fee-free dates in 2014:
- February 15-17: Presidents Day weekend
- April 19-20: Opening weekend of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- November 11: Veterans Day
Winter is an especially great time of year to enjoy America's Best Idea— the national parks— since there are no summer crowds or traffic. Just be sure to call ahead and confirm driving conditions.