Park for Free or Help Pull Weeds on National Public Lands Day, September 24

Attend a volunteer event in Portland and beyond, or visit federal recreation sites such as Crater Lake National Park without paying a fee.

By Isabel Lemus Kristensen September 16, 2022

It usually costs $30 to take your car into Crater Lake National Park in September, or $15 to enter by bicycle. But on National Public Lands Day, it's free.

If you’re looking for an excuse to get outside, National Public Lands Day is just around the corner on September 24. NPLD is a fee-free day, which means entrance fees to all federal public lands will be waived. If you’ve been wanting to visit Crater Lake National Park, check out fall hikes from a national forest trailhead, explore Fort Clatsop at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park near Warrenton, or get a look at the exhibits inside Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, that's the day to do it free of charge.

It’s not just about free admission or free parking, though. It’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, and there are a number of volunteer opportunities to choose from if you want to spend the day working outdoors, and not just on federal lands. SOLVE helps organize a weeding and mulching project at Sandy River Delta Park just east of Portland. Other Portland-area volunteer events include trail work at Forest Park and ivy removal at Woods Memorial Park.

Oregon State Parks does not waive day-use or parking fees at its fee parks on National Public Lands Day, but it does get in on the action with some volunteer events, too, including one near Florence planting trees and shrubs at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park and another closer to Portland while picking up litter along the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail at John B. Yeon State Park. (Most volunteer events require preregistration; registration for the state park events closes September 19.)

Note that the fee waiver doesn’t apply to everything. If you’re staying overnight in a national park or national forest campground, campsite and parking fees still apply. Other National Parks fee-free days include Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, the first day of National Park Week in April, and the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act in August. Oregon State Parks also waives parking fees on New Year's Day, State Parks Day in June (when campsite fees are also waived, but not yurt or cabin rental fees), and "Green Friday," the day after Thanksgiving.

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