4th Grade National Park Pass (A Guide to the FREE “Every Kid Outdoors” Program)

Yes, it’s true.  There is such a thing as a FREE 4th grade national park pass.  Every child in fourth grade in the United States can get a pass that grants them, and their family, access to every national park in the country!

This initiative is called Every Kid Outdoors (formerly known as Every Kid in a Park).  It began in 2015 to help get kids outside and interacting with nature.  This program also ensures that more families have access to our amazing national parks.

Our family has been able to take advantage of the 4th grade national pass several years (child number three is in 4th grade this year). We visited some amazing parks including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Pinnacles, Crater Lake, Lassen, and Yosemite!

Bonus: FREE Entry for 5th Grade Students, too!  Due to COVID travel restrictions, they expanded the free park pass program to include 5th graders for the 2020-21 school year!

How to Get Your 4th Grade National Park Pass

Getting a pass is easy, peasy.  With your 4th grader, visit the Every Kids Outdoor website

Have your 4th grader follow the prompts on the screen to select their own adventure.  These prompts don’t actually do anything, they’re just for fun!  After a couple of questions, you’ll enter your zip code and a free national park pass voucher will be generated.  

Yellowstone National Park

How to Use Your 4th Grade National Park Pass

Print out the pass and take it with you on your next visit to a national park.  Electronic copies are not accepted, so you’ll need a paper copy.  At the park entrance kiosk, hand the voucher to the ranger.

The ranger will ask to see your fourth grader.  Roll down the back window and allow your child to say hi!  The ranger will give you a pass made of hard plastic (the size of a credit card) and ask the 4th grader to write their name on the card using a permanent pen or marker.  Once you have the pass, you no longer need the voucher.  You can simply show the pass at the entrance of the next national park you visit!

The 4th grade national park pass is good for the fourth-grader and everyone traveling in the vehicle with them.

Hiking in Grand Teton National Park

How Long Can I Use My Free Pass?

The Every Kid in a Park pass is good for one year.  Access is granted starting September 1st and is good through the end of the school year and summer, expiring on August 31st.

You can use your 4th grade national park pass as many times as you would like, there is no limit as long as your fourth-grader is in the car!  If you enter a park on foot or by bicycle, the pass will cover all children under the age of 16 and up to three adults.

Where Can I Use My 4th Grade National Park Pass?

Your free national park pass is actually so much more than a national park pass!  The Every Kid Outdoors pass will grant you access to both national parks AND federal recreational lands and waters.

This means you have free access to more than 2,000 recreation sites!  63 of those are national parks.

barnacles sea urchins sea anemones in a rocky tide pool

Grand Canyon National Park

Get Your FREE Pass and Start Planning Your Trip!

Road trips to national parks are one of our favorite ways to enjoy a family vacation.  Camping in or exploring national parks is also an affordable way to travel!

We love finding ways to help you SAVE MORE, and getting a free 4th grade national park pass is definitely a bonus!

If you need help planning for your trip, check out our post on creating a foolproof trip budget in 9 steps!  Or, if you plan to tent camp for the first time, we can help you get started with A Beginner’s Guide to Tent Camping: 102 Things to Pack.

Where you do plan to use your free park pass?  Tell us in the comments below!

Dinosaur National Monument in Utah (a must-see for kids who love dinosaurs)

Do you have a budding paleontologist in your family? Or, is your child obsessed with geology and fossils?

We have a couple of kiddos in our family who are. They spend hours looking at rocks they find in the riverbed behind our house, trying to guess what fossilized creatures they’ve discovered.

When I knew we would be passing through eastern Utah on a road trip, inspiration struck. Without a doubt, I knew we needed to add Dinosaur National Monument as a stop.  

It’s one of those places I hadn’t heard much about, and none of our friends or family had visited. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s not close to any other attractions, but off by itself in the middle of nowhere.

Honestly, I thought it would be fun for our dinosaur-lovers, but I wasn’t prepared for how much ALL of us would love this little hidden gem.

Two States, One Monument

Dinosaur National Monument sits right on the border of Colorado and Utah. There are two areas of the park, the Canyon Visitor Center located in Colorado, and the Quarry Exhibit Hall located in Utah.

If you want to see dinosaur fossils (you do), you’ll want to visit the Utah side. A large building called the Quarry Exhibit Hall houses the fossils.  

The Quarry Exhibit Hall is built around a huge riverbed discovery. About 1,500 dinosaur bones are on display!  

Quarry Exhibit Hall fossil collection (over 1,500 bones)

Get In Free If You Have a Fourth Grader

We had a fourth-grader when we visited, so we were able to use her “Every Kid Outdoors” pass to get the whole family in for free. If you have a fourth-grade student, you’ll definitely want to get a pass of your own!  Not only does this pass get you into national parks free for one year, but it also grants you access to over 2,000 national monuments and federal recreation sites!

Quarry Visitor Center

The visitor center is small, consisting primarily of a theatre and gift shop. First, view a short film about the park and learn more about the history of Dinosaur National Monument.

Become a Junior Ranger

Also, while you’re at the visitor center, be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for your young adventurers. Young explorers can complete activities in the booklet and earn a Junior Ranger badge–for free!

At the entrance to the Quarry Visitor Center in Utah

Ride the Tram

From the visitor center, guests can take a tram/shuttle ride up to the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Depending on the season (and COVID precautions), guests may take their own vehicle instead. 

Obviously, the tram ride is a hit with kids. It made the trip to the Exhibit Hall more exciting and mysterious!

TIP: Bring plenty of water if you’re visiting during the summer. It was scorching hot when we visited in July. We had to wait for the tram for about 15-20 minutes.

Riding the tram to the Quarry Exhibit Hall

Dinosaur fossil heaven

Visit the Quarry Exhibit Hall

This is where the magic happens! Guests will get to see dinosaur bones up close and personal. They even get to touch them!

My eldest was especially in awe. “My mind is just blown. I just can’t believe it. It’s just completely blown! I’m looking at all these real dinosaur bones, AND I’m actually getting to touch them.”

Blissfully content after touching REAL dinosaur fossils

Explore More at Dinosaur National Monument

Turn your visit into a mini-vacation! If you have more than a day, you can explore even more at Dinosaur National Monument.

Visit the Canyon Visitor Center in Dinosaur, Colorado, and spend some time hiking, fishing, and discovering petroglyphs throughout the park. Some camping is available as well.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, go white-water rafting on the Green River!


Scheduling a stop at Dinosaur National Monument is a must if you’re passing through north-eastern Utah! This was a highlight for our kids, and they have asked to go back.  They want to camp and explore more of the area.

However, if camping isn’t your thing, you can stay in the town of Vernal, Utah, just a little north of the park. 

Do you have aspiring paleontologists in your family? Have you been to Dinosaur National Monument? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!