Have a 4th Grader? They Can Visit US National Parks for Free

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Jessica is a respected contributor to the Sampling America writing team, eloquently sharing tales of adventures across the country and beyond.

Fourth graders are naturally curious about animals and nature. That’s why the U.S. government’s Every Kid Outdoors program decided to offer free admission to national parks to those students and their families.

“Research shows that kids ages 9 to 11 are beginning to learn about the world around them,” the program’s website reads. “They’re open to new ideas, and they are likely to connect to nature and our history.”

Between 2021 and 2022, 120,000 families took advantage of this program, but it was actually open to 3.9 million. Here’s a look at the program and how you can get your kid involved.

Every Kid Outdoors

Arches National Park
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Every Kid Outdoors is a way of getting kids — you guessed it — outdoors. The goal is to offer them easier access to national parks, which, according to research, 73% of them would never visit otherwise.

Statistics have shown that if a child begins going to national parks and exploring nature at a young age, they will be more likely to continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

How Can My Child Get Involved?

Child Explorer
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Signing up for this great opportunity is simple: your fourth grader must simply go to www.everykidoutdoors.gov and sign up. They can then print out a free pass to their preferred park, which will admit not just the student but up to three adults and any other children with them who are under 16 years old.

The pass can be used for any park managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the program’s website, there is a national park within two hours of every single home in America, so it is feasible to make a trip to at least one to help your little one get out and explore the world.

Some Fine Print

Zion National Park
Image Credit: Canva.

Passes to the national parks are valid for the fourth grader’s academic year and “most of” the summer following it.

The pass covers the entry fee to the parks but does not cover the costs of tours, camping, or other paid activities offered there.

If you don’t have a fourth grader, you can’t take advantage of this program, but you can get free admission to the parks yourself on certain days each year, and some federal lands are free to visit all year round. So no matter what grade you’re in, you can still get out and explore nature!

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