Bryce Canyon
Photo by Tracy Zhang on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe that this is my oldest son’s last year in elementary school. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered “Where did the time go?” since school started. 🙂 One huge bonus about having a fourth grader is that he gets a FREE pass to the National Parks as part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The fourth grade was chosen for this program since many curricula focus on state history during the fourth grade school year, so it’s a great time to get outside the classroom and see history first hand!

Every Kid in a Park

Last week my fourth grader signed up for his pass, and it was SUPER easy to do. You can help your child sign up by himself/herself or you can also sign up as an educator (this includes camp directors, home-schoolers religious group leaders) and print passes for your entire fourth-grade class!

To get started visit the Every Kid in a Park website and click on “Get Your Pass.” You child will be prompted to fill out a brief “diary” that helps them to discover what types of activities they want to explore in our nation’s national parks. When your child is finished, they can print their National Parks pass. If you need inspiration, you will find links to several parks and sites to help plan your visit. I was impressed with how comprehensive the planning information was– it even includes packing lists!

How it Works and the Official Rules

The following is verbatim information from the Every Kid in a Park website about what the pass covers and other rules you need to know about:

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Official rules

  • The pass is for U.S. fourth-grade (or home-school equivalent) students.
  • The pass is for the 2017 to 2018 school year. It expires August 31, 2018.
  • Students can’t transfer the pass to anyone else.
  • We can’t accept electronic versions of this paper for access or to exchange for a pass.
  • No refunds are given for previously purchased passes, or if you forget your pass when you visit.
  • If you lose your pass, get a new one by visiting the website and signing up again.
  • Educators can get one paper pass for each of their fourth-grade students.
  • This program only provides passes for fourth graders.

How it works

  • Show your pass to a ranger when you enter. If there is no ranger, leave it on the dashboard of your car.
  • If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person— The pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free.
  • If your group visits a site that charges vehicle entrance fees – The pass admits all children under 16 and all adults in up to one passenger vehicle. Commercial vehicles can’t use a pass to get in.
  • If you arrive at a site on bicycle— The pass admits all children under 16 and up to three adults on bicycles.
  • The pass doesn’t cover things like parking fees, camping, boats, and special tours. Also, some sites are managed by private operators. They may not honor the pass. Check with the site ahead of time to find out.
  • The pass doesn’t cover fees for local, city, or state parks and recreation areas unless they say that they accept this pass.
  • Paper passes can be exchanged for plastic passes at certain sites.
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BONUS: If you decide to take an Amtrak train to the national park you are visiting, your fourth grader will get 75% off their train ticket with the purchase of a full price adult ticket!


Jessica Morrison

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