Starting with the 2015-2016 school year, if you have a fourth grader at home, your family qualifies for a free, one-year pass to the national parks and other federal lands. The offer is part of a new initiative, Every Kid in a Park, aimed at getting children back outside and introducing them to the natural beauty and history of our country.
According to statistics the White House cited when announcing Every Kid in a Park, more than 80 percent of American families now live in urban areas where they often lack access to safe outdoor spaces. Additionally, a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that young people are spending about 53 hours per week on electronic media use–that’s longer than many adults work a week!
The annual national park pass typically costs $80, so this is quite a savings for families! The pass only covers entrance fees, however. The pass will not cover the cost of tour fees, parking rates, or other such expenses. A visit to Mt. Rushmore, for example, will still require you to pay the $11 parking fee.
To get the pass, families with fourth graders can go here to complete the online registration process. You will need to print out the form and then bring it with you the next time you visit a NPS site. A ranger will issue your fourth grader a special pass that can be used for the whole school year starting Sept. 1 and continuing through Aug. 31.
The website also offers resources for educators to help teach about why our country protects lands and waters and how students can take care of the parks. Learn more about those materials here.