(Photo/National Park Service)

Get Into National Parks for Free & Get Involved on National Public Lands Day

On National Public Lands Day, September 24, access to all public lands is free, and thousands of volunteers will step up to help restore and protect them.

This Saturday marks the 29th annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD). It’s a holiday celebrating the connection between people and our nation’s outdoor spaces. Held the fourth Saturday every September, all access to National forests, parks, refuges, and rangelands is free.

Additionally, it’s also an opportunity to volunteer your time for our public lands. NPLD has become the largest single-day volunteer event for public lands in the country.

National Public Lands Day: A ‘Volunteer Holiday’

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(Photo/NEEF)

So far, more than a million volunteers have donated roughly 5 million hours on NPLD over the last decade, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). Thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves every year to have a positive impact on our public lands.

And the NEEF organizes tons of volunteer events. Volunteers help with everything from picking up litter, collecting seeds, facilitating educational events, removing invasive plants, cleaning up rivers, planting trees, and more.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country’s public lands acted as a safe haven for all Americans to gather with their friends and families,” said Meri-Margaret Deoudes, president of NEEF. “NPLD gives us an opportunity to return the favor.”

Altogether, NEEF has over 500 volunteer events scheduled for Saturday. So, no matter where you are, there are ample opportunities to give back. Go celebrate stewardship and lend a helping hand to America’s Public Lands.

“The National Park Service will host nearly 100 events on National Public Lands Day,” said Shari Orr, National Park Service volunteer program manager. “This day of service helps us introduce people to national parks and the recreational, inspirational and educational benefits [parks] provide.”

Fee-Free Day Details

Of course, NPLD is also a fee-free day. It’s one of just five held throughout the year. On those days, all National Parks, BLM areas, forests, and other areas managed by federal agencies are free to enter.

Generally, the “Signature Event” has been been the highlight of National Public Lands Day, though it’s been on pause since 2020. And this year’s Signature Event will mark its triumphant post-pandemic return. The 2022 NPLD Signature Event will be held at Harvest Square Nature Preserve in Huntsville, Ala., in partnership with Toyota.

Get involved with an NPLD volunteer event by checking NEEF’s volunteer event locator. Enter your location and what you’re hoping to help with, and NEEF will line you up with the nearest opportunities. Or, check out more NPLD events held by the NPS. And if you simply want to get into public lands for free, it’s easy. Just hit up your nearest national park and get outside.

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Will Brendza
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Will Brendza is a writer, journalist, and professional misfit based out of Boulder, Colorado. Will grew up on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, reenacting "Survivorman" episodes and studying books like "Hatchet," "The Monkey Wrench Gang" and "Into the Wild". He's written on topics ranging from cannabis to local news, the environment and, of course, outdoor gear and adventure. If he's not banging stories out on his computer, you’ll probably find Will skiing or mountain biking (depending on the season)—or drinking beer at some remote craft brewery.