Happy 2023, San Francisco! The National Parks Service has announced a new lineup of free entrance days to over 400 national parks around the country, and now’s the time to put them on your calendar. Save money on parking, entrance fees, and museums on these special dates which will be here before you know it.
Free entrance days to National Parks in 2023:
- Jan. 16: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday
- Apr. 22: Earth Day and first day of National Park Week
- Aug. 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- Sept. 23: National Public Lands Day
- Nov. 11: Veterans Day
San Francisco is well-located to see some absolute gems in NorCal. Here are the nearest national parks participating in free entrance days.
Pinnacles National Park
Location: Near Salinas Valley, 2.5 hours by car from SF
Fees waived on free entrance days: $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, $15 walk-in or bike entrance fee
This beautiful rocky landscape was born from volcanoes about sixty million years ago. Continuous erosion at the Pinnacles has added even more interesting facets to the park’s geography, such as steep ravines, caves, towering rock walls, and canyons. The national park has over 30 miles of trails that range from strenuous hikes through rocky terrain and caves to easy walks through the grasslands. It’s a great park for hiking, climbing, camping, and bird watching.
Muir Woods National Monument
Location: Mill Valley, 40 minutes by car from SF
Fees waived on free entrance days: $15 entrance fee. Still must reserve and pay for parking ($9) or shuttle ($3.50).
Explore an expansive forest of old growth coastal redwoods through six miles of trails. Most of the trails are asphalted or boardwalked to make for easier walking conditions (avid hikers like to link up with trails from neighboring Mount Tamalpais State Park). Muir Woods has been a federally-protected National Monument since 1908.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Location: Aquatic Park, San Francisco
Fees waived on free entrance days: $15 entrance fee
Explore maritime history along the Pacific coast at Hyde Street Pier, where you can board and explore a fleet of historic ships including the U.S.S. Pampanito, a U.S. Navy submarine. Activities include guided tours, demonstrations, and great kid-friendly attractions.
There are plenty of other national parks to visit for free entrance days in addition to these ones nearby. If you can make the trip, consider a weekend in Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, or Lava Beds National Monument… and those are just in California! See the full list of national parks participating in free entrance days here.