Free Admission At Northern Virginia National Parks On MLK Day

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MCLEAN, VA — Martin Luther King Jr. is a federal holiday and often a day of service. It's also an opportune time to enjoy the national parks as the first fee-free day of 2021.

On Monday, Jan. 18, there will be free admission to national parks that normally charge admission fees. That includes Great Falls Park in McLean, Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, and Shenandoah National Park.

Great Falls Park is a popular option for hiking and viewing overlooks on the Potomac River. Located at 9200 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, it normally costs $20 for a vehicle to enter and $10 for individuals on foot, bicycle or equestrian. Admission is good for seven consecutive days. Hours are 7 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset. The visitor center is temporarily closed.

Shenandoah National Park offers over 200,000 acres of protected lands to explore. It normally costs $30 for one vehicle, and the admission is good for seven days. The park has several entrance gates, but the closest one for Northern Virginia travelers is the Front Royal entrance on Skyline Drive off Route 340. Visitor centers as well as food, lodging and other services in the park closed in November for the season. Visitors can visit the park any time of day, but portions of Skyline Drive may close during inclement weather.

Prince William Forest Park features 15,000 acres of woods and streams where nature lovers enjoy hiking, camping, and biking. It costs $20 for a vehicle and $10 for a walk-in or bike-in. There are additional fees associated with camping. The visitor center is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the fee-free days at national parks in 2021:

  • Monday, Jan. 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  • Saturday, April 17 – First Day of National Park Week

  • Wednesday, Aug. 4 – One-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act

  • Wednesday, Aug. 25 – National Park Service Birthday

  • Saturday, Sept. 25 – National Public Lands Day

  • Thursday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

Many other national parks are free every day. For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the National Park Service encourages residents to visit DC's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, the site of his "I Have a Dream" speech.

To find other national parks near you, visit

This article originally appeared on the McLean Patch