Free admission to national parks on MLK Day. Here are 101 things to do when you get there

What to do on a free day in any national park? Take an early morning walk in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. national parks and forests that charge admission will waive fees Monday to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That means you can skip the $25 entry fee to visit Joshua Tree or Death Valley.

What’s there to do? Plenty. L.A. Times Travel writer Christopher Reynolds and photographer Mark Boster collected 101 tips guaranteed to make your national parks outdoor adventure a success.

Want to know how to photograph stars in Death Valley? Or find the fake tower at the Grand Canyon? And do you know where to find the most remote national park in America? Browse the tips and photo opportunities at to find out.

Locally, national forests such as the Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland will waive the $5 Adventure Pass for vehicles.


If you go farther afield, check weather and road conditions before heading out to places like Yosemite (which closed temporarily last weekend because of severe storms and flooding) and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park.

Remember, fees are waived for Monday only. Charges for campgrounds and other activities are still in effect.


Tuesday in Mammoth: U.S. 395 closes as mega-storm blasts Sierra town. Up the hill, winds of 150 mph


Old-school ‘SNL’ pros Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz team up for Las Vegas show

Watch Yellowstone’s Old Faithful put on a snow show

A dreamy Death Valley landmark, Artists Palette, to close temporarily