Love Volunteering? National Public Lands Day Free Admission Is September 23rd

Woman hiking at Artist's Bluff in autumn. View of Echo Lake. Fall colours in Franconia Notch State Park. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, USA

This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. In honor of the day, entry fees will be waived at all national parks and other federal public lands, including national monuments, forests, recreation areas, seashores, wildlife refuges, historical sites, battlefields, and grasslands on September 23, 2023. It is the nation's largest single day of volunteering for parks and public lands, and 70,000 volunteers are expected at federal sites and state and local parks.

National Public Lands Day Details 

Driving the George Parks Highway near Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska
Image Credit: Michael Rosebrock and Shutterstock.

Hundreds of already-planned volunteer events are already on the National Public Lands Day (NLPD) schedule. Stewardship opportunities range from clearing hiking paths to planting trees and removing invasive plant species. Additionally, scheduled group hikes and tours will be available to celebrate the free admission day. While you're more than welcome to travel to popular parks and water destinations in the U.S., the NEEF website highlights local events and volunteer opportunities in your neck of the woods. 

2023 NLPD Theme

Channel Islands National Park in California
Image Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch Photography.

This year's NPLD theme is”30 Years of Care and Community.” Commemorating the event's evolution from one agency, two sites, and 700 volunteers to a nationwide initiative spanning all 50 states and U.S. territories, the last decade has shown that one million volunteers have invested nearly five million hours of their time for public lands on NPLD. If you want to put a price tag on the effort, it's worth an estimated $133 million

Mount Ranier National Park

Mount Ranier National Park shutterstock
Image credit: Shutterstock/ Rylandwest

More than 1.5 million visitors pass through Mount Rainier National Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Because of the high traffic, park staff rely on National Public Lands Day volunteers to clean up the mountain after a summer of guests wearing down the landscape. This year, NPLD volunteers will help refurbish the park's 260 miles of trails and restore its meadowlands to prepare for winter.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California
Image Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch Photography.

Considered one of the most significant NLPD events, Yosemite National Park with get a massive facelift this year. Predictions show that 2,000 volunteers will be turning up for the park-wide clean-up. Fun activities include raffle prizes for volunteers, as well as evening programs including guest speakers, film screenings, live music, and more.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ kojihirano

Also called “Science Monument,” Grand Staircase and the land surrounding it is well-known for archaeological and dinosaur findings. Additionally, it's a popular destination for both wilderness hikers and campers. To give back, volunteers will be noting the natural environment's damage from non-permitted camping misuse and will be adding signs to keep it in check for the coming years. 

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Jon Bilous

In addition to volunteer projects and conservation-focused programming for NLPD, the Shenandoah National Park Trust's “Art in the Park: Scenes from Shenandoah” event will showcase complimentary workshops and demonstrations by talented local artists across the park. 

Round Lake Logging Dam

Round Lake Logging Dam
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Weldon Schloneger

One of the last remaining logging dams of its kind globally, Round Lake Logging Dam participants will embark on a “Fall Colors Photography Tour” where they can capture the vibrant autumn colors and beautiful views. Attendees will have the opportunity to walk through history among hardwood and hemlock trees while taking photos of local biodiversity to share with local researchers using the free iNaturalist app.

Author: Karyn Locke

Title: Travel Journalist, Published Author

Expertise: Travel, Disney, Podcasts, Journalism, Writing Books


Karyn Locke is an experienced freelance journalist, travel writer, and published author. She's also the travel expert on a monthly live television segment on KDKA Pittsburgh's Talk Pittsburgh show. Additionally, she’s proud to call herself both a travel expert and travel editor at Wealth of Geeks and uses her experience at both jobs to provide tips and tricks to all who love to hit the road.