37° Good Afternoon
37° Good Afternoon

Free entry to NYS, national parks for 4th-graders and families

A welcome sign highlights hiking trails for visitors

A welcome sign highlights hiking trails for visitors at the Brookhaven State Park in Wading River. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Is it true that all fourth-graders are eligible for a free pass to New York State parks for themselves and their families?

Yes, and they get into national parks free as well.

In 2015, the National Park Service launched the Every-Kid-In-A Park pass, which gave fourth-graders and their families free entry to all national parks through Aug. 31, 2016. The federal program is now entering its second academic year, offering current fourth-graders the same opportunity through Aug. 31, 2017.

New York decided to piggyback on the national pass and accept the Every-Kid-In-A-Park pass at New York’s parks as well, which normally charge a vehicle entry fee of $8 to $10, depending on the park or beach. “We said, ‘This is a great initiative,’ ” says Randy Simons, public information officer for New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation in Albany. “We will accept it again in 2017. We generally start charging again in April.” To use the Every-Kid-In-A-Park pass at a New York State Park, the fourth-grader must be in the car.

“Fourth grade is a year when kids respond really well to environmental messages,” says Sally Drake, community relations representative for New York State Parks. And fourth grade is a year when the curriculum focuses on New York State history, she says.

Parks have seen a decline in visits from young people, Simons says, so the Every-Kid-In-A-Park pass makes sense as part of a concerted effort to bring kids into the parks, Simons says. Long Island has 31 state parks and recreation sites, Simons says.

Some other states may honor the national pass in their state parks as well.

Visit to obtain and print a pass. Fourth-graders complete an educational activity to obtain and print the pass, which can be exchanged for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More Family