America's National Wildlife Refuges are usually free to enter, but out of approximately 500 NWRs, about 30 of them do charge an admission fee per vehicle to help fund upkeep. However, you can still visit them for free while enjoying a day off from work! If your local NWR charges a fee, there will be five days next year when admission is free for everyone. A visit to a national wildlife refuge offers you and your family a chance to experience awe-inducing landscapes that range from Oregon’s rocky cliffs to Texas lagoons, from Maine wilderness to woods and fields inside the city of Philadelphia. Thirty refuges that normally charge entrance fees will offer free admission on these days in 2019:
- January 21 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February 18 – Presidents’ Day
- September 28 – National Public Lands Day
- October 13 – First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week
- November 11 – Veterans Day
The 2019 entrance fee waiver does not cover concessionaire or permit fees for some activities such as hunting, fishing or special tours. Every state and U.S. territory has at least one national wildlife refuge, there is and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Use the online zip code locator to find one close to you.
“National wildlife refuges provide habitat for species as diverse as bison, whooping cranes and monarch butterflies. They also provide unique places to hunt, fish, observe nature and simply enjoy the outdoors,” said Refuge System Chief Cynthia Martinez. “Wildlife refuges also provide green space to the millions of Americans who live in urban areas. If you have never visited a national wildlife refuge, these fee-free days offer perfect opportunities to see what you’ve been missing.”
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s largest network of conservation lands, encompassing 567 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Nearly 500 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts are open to the public, hosting some 53 million visits every year – almost all offering free admittance year-round.