If you have a child in the 4th grade, then your entire family is entitled to a free National Parks pass this school year through the “Every Kid Outdoors” program.
The pass admits all of the children and adults in your vehicle. If you arrive by bike, then it admits all the children under 16 and up to three adults. Unlike yearly passes, it expires at the end of the school year on August 31st, 2020.
To get one, you just need to go to this government site. 4th graders can score a printable paper pass by answering two multiple-choice questions about what they’d like to do in National Parks and entering their zip code. Educators can also apply to get paper passes for everyone in their class.
I, a non-4th grader, did the quiz and it took me roughly 20 seconds to get a pass generated.
The deal is good for anyone in the 4th grade, even if you’re homeschooled.
Why 4th graders? The site says “we chose fourth graders because research shows that kids ages nine to 11 are beginning to learn about the world around them. They’re open to new ideas, and they are likely to connect to nature and our history. We offer the pass to fourth graders every year. Over time, every kid can get a free pass to explore our country.”
So if you have a younger kid at home, keep this in mind come 4th-grade time.
Digital passes aren’t accepted at the parks, so you will need to print that pass out. Each pass also has its own unique code, so every 4th grader should apply for their own rather than copying one and sharing it with the masses.
The site notes that at some sites that park ranger will exchange your paper pass for a plastic one, at others, the paper pass will be all you need.
If you need help deciding what to do, a “Plan Your Trip” tab on the site will help you see what options are out there, so you can plan the perfect adventure for your family.
And if you don’t have a 4th grader at home but still love the idea of checking out National Parks, a National Park pass actually isn’t that expensive. Anyone can purchase a year-long pass for $US80 ($119). Purchased passes can also have two owners, so you can share it (and the cost) with a neighbour or friend.