National Parks are free 5x in ’23, although not much help in Glacier
You won't have to shell out cash to enjoy a National Park on five different says this year. But here in Montana, winter, as well as construction, erase some of that bargain.
The National Park Service traditionally offers several days when it waives entrance fees as a means of encouraging people to enjoy their public lands and to be able to do that in cases where the cost of visiting a park might be prohibitive for some people.
Over the weekend, the park announced there will be five entrance fee-free days in 2023, following the first day, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
-April 22: First Day of National Park Week
-August 4th: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
-September 23rd: National Public Lands Day
-November 11: Veterans Day
The fee-free days can be a welcome offering to visit not just the larger and more popular national parks, such as Yellowstone, but smaller park units like the Little Bighorn Battlefield where fees might be charged.
However, the scheduling of the days with no entrance fees doesn't always help if you're planning to visit Glacier National Park, where much of the park is closed during the winter months. And this year, construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road is also creating an impact.
Glacier has usually been more liberal with its application of entrance fees in the "off-season", and usually that allows people to access popular winter destinations for skiing, snowshoeing, or just sightseeing. But this year, with construction closing public access on the western end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, there's no vehicle access past the intersection at Apgar, but also no pedestrian or bike access in the corridor along Lake McDonald.
That's still going to be the case when the fee-free day hits on April 22nd. And the park's expansion of the reservation system will complicate the free day on August 4th, although you could still save on entrance fees. September 23rd will fall outside the reservation window, so that will be a good savings option for local Glacier visitors. And by Veteran's Day, most of the park has already closed for the winter, although there shouldn't be a construction closure on the west side if all goes according to plan.