They say birthdays get less and less exciting as you get older. But for the National Park Service, which turns 105 this Wednesday, we couldn’t be more excited. Why? Because the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees to all the park sites it manages.
On Wednesday August 25, more than 400 parks across the US will be free to enter. In Oregon, that includes Crater Lake National Park and Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds and the Oregon Caves (also managed by the National Park Service), do not charge entrance fees.
If you’ve already purchased one of the many annual park passes that already give you free access to public lands—such as the Northwest Forest Pass ($30) or the America the Beautiful Pass ($80) that applies to all federal lands—then you don’t have to worry about paying an entrance fee anyway. It’s also worth noting that the waived entrance fee on fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
So where can you go?
At 7,700 years old, Crater Lake National Park is as pure as ever, inspiring awe in visitors, artists, photographers, and sightseers. Clear to a depth of 40 feet, the tranquil waters of the Crater Lake Caldera hide a volcanic history that may well resurface in years to come. Until then, the 4.2 mile up-and-back Mount Scott hike affords glorious views.
This park, celebrating the history of some of America’s most famous explorers, encompasses sites along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast. Joining the explorers on this two-year, largely riverine trek across the Northern United States? The “Corps of Discovery”—31 other men, along with Sacagawea and her baby. Now that’s a story.
A varied history surrounds the bi-state Fort Vancouver site, once a frontier fur trading post and later a military installation. The site offers a window into several complicated chapters of Pacific Northwest history.
Five major rivers spawn from Mount Rainer’s glacial water flow and feed the subalpine wildflower meadows and abundant wildlife that surround this 14,000-foot behemoth. There are five entrances to Mount Rainer, so quick research will save you some time and frustration.
Diversity defines Olympic National Park, which sprawls several different ecosystems, from old-growth forests to glacier-capped mountains. Explore nearly one million acres of Pacific coastline, alpine areas, temperate rainforests, and more.
The Whitman Mission National Historic Site holds a violent and complicated history: after Marcus and Narcissa Whiteman died following an attack by the native Cayuse people, Congress promptly made Oregon a US territory. Part of our continued conversation about land sovereignty and native rights, the site is rife with beauty and bloodshed.
Fee-free days in 2021. After August 25, there are only two left. And don't forget to bring your mask.
- January 18: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 17: First day of National Park Week
- August 4: One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 25: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day