Every Kid Outdoors Pass: FREE National Parks for 4th Graders!

Got a 4th-grader? Then this is your year to take advantage of FREE entry into US national parks, forests, monuments and historic sites with a federal Every Kid Outdoors pass. Here are all of the details about the program including where you can use the pass, cost and eligibility, what the pass covers and how to get it.

The federal US National Park Service, established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, maintains more than 400 sites and 85 million acres. Most of us are familiar with the big name parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, but the park service also maintains battlefields, seashores, rivers and trails (complete National Park System list by type).

Visiting US national parks is a popular vacation. Our California road trip to Yosemite remains one of our favorite family memories. Planning a trip is a fun activity but you do need to start your research early. Recent surges in visitor numbers have resulted in the implementation of reservation systems at some of the parks. Over 325 million people visited US National Parks in 2023!

Although fewer than one third of US national park sites charge admission fees, those fees can add up. For example, the daily per person entrance fee for Maine’s Acadia National Park ranges, by season, from $20 – $35.

There are, however, a number of pass programs offered including ones for military members and veterans, seniors and park volunteers.

For families with elementary school age kids, the Every Kid Outdoors Pass is a must.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a highlight of the National Park that can be entered for free by 4th graders with an Every Kid Outdoors Pass.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is one of the park’s awesome highlights. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Is the Every Kid Outdoors Pass Free?

The Every Kid Outdoors Pass is completely free for children during their 4th-grade school year, from September 1 – August 31.

And the benefit applies to the eligible child’s accompanying family members. At sites that charge per vehicle, everyone in the car is free. When the fee is charged per person, up to three adults are admitted for free.

Entrance fees are waived when using the pass; however, the benefit does not extend to charges for parking, camping, food or other park activities.

The pass is valid at federal recreation sites. The pass brochure has links to their various websites to help you plan your visit.

How to Get the Every Kid Outdoors Pass

A paper pass is available for download by 4th-grade students after they complete a fun digital activity on the Every Kid Outdoors website. When entering a park, show the pass to a park ranger or, if the entrance is unattended, leave the pass on your car dashboard.

Digital copies of the pass are not accepted; at some sites, you can exchange the paper pass for a plastic one. Site that offer the service are available here.

Passes are not transferrable.