The 8 Most Expensive National Parks in the U.S.
There are 63 parks in the United States that have earned the “National Park” designation. Many of these parks are completely free to visit but some have entrance fees ranging in price. Entrance fees are an important part of creating a quality visitor experience. Here are the eight most expensive National Parks in the U.S.
In this article, we will examine the 8 most expensive National Parks in the U.S. All of these parks feature pretty much the same rates for an entrance pass, which is as follows:
- Private Vehicle — $35
- Motorcycle — $30
- Pedestrian — $20
- Annual Pass — $70
Some parks offer reduced rates for certain individuals or discounts during particular times of the year, which we will make note of in this article.
Free Entrance Days
Though many of the largest national parks in the U.S. charge some form of entrance fee, there are ways to access the parks at less expensive rates. National Park Services offers free admission to everyone during certain days of the year. In 2023 these days are:
- Monday, January 16 — Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Saturday, April 22 — First Day of National Park Week
- Friday, August 4 — The Great American Outdoors Act
- Saturday, September 23 — National Public Lands Day
- Saturday, November 11 — Veterans Day
1. Grand Canyon National Park
The wonders of the Grand Canyon lie within Grand Canyon National Park. This incredible park stretches 1,217,262 acres and features dozens of hiking trails. Located in northwest Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park reveals millions of years of geological history, making it well worth the admission price of $35 per vehicle.
Additionally, there’s more to do than hike and camp at Grand Canyon National Park. Visit Grand Canyon’s Historic Village filled with preserved buildings dating back to the early 1900s. The park also offers opportunities for white water rafting, bicycling, and exploring the Grand Canyon via a guided mule trip.
Passes to Grand Canyon National Park are also available for free or reduced prices for some individuals. For example, current U.S. Military members can enter the park at no charge. National and international academic institutions can apply for Educational Fee Waivers for free entrance to the park.
2. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon and Sequoia are adjacent national parks located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. As the name suggests, the parks feature ancient enormous sequoias that are some of the world’s largest trees.
The area’s deep canyons, towering mountains, and rugged foothills are home to a diverse variety of wildlife. Explore nature, history, and culture with scenic hikes, camping, and more in these two national parks.
Entrance fees for Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are $35 per vehicle. However, passes purchased at Sequoia are valid at Kings Canyon, and vice versa. Other purchase options, such as a $70 annual park pass, are also available.
3. Yosemite National Park
Another park located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park also contains towering sequoia groves. However, the park is perhaps best known for its enormous waterfalls and crystal-clear streams. With 748,000 acres of land, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore within Yosemite National Park.
An entrance pass for Yosemite National Park costs $35 per vehicle and annual passes are $70. Yosemite is open year-round and offers a different adventure in each season, writes National Park Services.
During the summer months, wildflowers such as little elephant’s heads, gentian, penstemon, yarrow, and shooting stars bloom in Tuolumne Meadows. In the spring, waterfalls are at their peak as melting causes even the smallest creeks to gush with water. Larger waterfalls tend to reach their peak runoff in May and June.
4. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana, along the state’s border with Canada. Located in the Rocky Mountains, the park features around 1 million acres of land and over 700 miles of trails. There’s no shortage of things to do in the park, from fishing and camping to biking and boating.
According to National Park Services, evidence of human settlements in the area dates back more than 10,000 years.
Native American tribes used what is now national park land for hunting, fishing, ceremonies, and gathering plants. When the first Europeans arrived on the land they encountered groups such as the Blackfeet, Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai.
Entrance fees for Glacier National Park are $35 per vehicle. However, winter rates are typically less than summer rates. Winter also offers an exciting time for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
5. Bryce Canyon National Park
Located in southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its crimson-colored spire-shaped rock formations (known as hoodoos).
It is also home to a bowl-shaped area referred to as an amphitheater. Viewpoints of this spot can be accessed from Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point, according to National Park Services.
Bryce Canyon National Park includes 35,835 acres of incredible and unique geology, hiking trails, scenic drives, camping spots, and more. The park entrance fee is $35 per vehicle, but some individuals (such as seniors, active-duty military, and U.S. students in the 4th grade) can access the park for free or discounted rates.
6. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a nature preserve located in southwest Utah. This incredible park features some of the most exciting hiking trails in the country. Brave the narrowest section of Zion Canyon by hiking the Narrows.
This section of the park features a gorge with walls a thousand feet tall and takes adventurers into the Virgin River. Zion National Park also includes Angel’s Landing, which is often ranked the most dangerous hike in the United States.
Zion National Park encompasses 148,733 beautiful acres with hiking trails for all skill levels. Passes for private vehicles are $35 and it’s worth noting that Zion only sells park passes in person.
7. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park gets its name from the Teton Mountain Range, whose highest peak rises to an elevation of 13,775 feet. The Teton Range formed over billions of years due to natural forces such as earthquakes, glaciers, and erosion.
The mountain is made up of some of the oldest rocks in North America, including metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks, writes National Park Services. Grand Teton is located adjacent to Yellowstone National Park.
When you head south from Yellowstone into Grand Teton, you will reach the Grand Teton’s north entrance. There are no fee stations at this point because it is only accessible through Yellowstone National Park.
8. Yellowstone National Park
Last up on our list is Yellowstone National Park, which spans the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone became the first national park in the United States in 1872. Today it spans 2.22 million acres of mountains, forests, geothermal features, and more.
One of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone National Park is a cone geyser known as Old Faithful. The geyser has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since the year 2000.
Yellowstone National Park features five entrances, and the North Entrance is open year-round. Like the rest of the parks on this list, entrance passes are $35 per private vehicle.
Summary of the 8 Most Expensive National Parks in the U.S.
|Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park||California||Passes work for both parks|
|Yosemite National Park||California|
|Glacier National Park||Montana||Reduced rates during the winter|
|Bryce Canyon National Park||Utah|
|Zion National Park||Utah|
|Grand Teton National Park||Wyoming||North entrance is accessible through Yellowstone National Park|
|Yellowstone National Park||Wyoming/Montana/Idaho|