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Free Days For National Wildlife Refuges

If you have never visited a national wildlife refuge before, one of the fee-free days would be the perfect opportunity to see what you’ve been missing, like this sandhill crane at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge.

Get outside and enjoy some of the country’s most magical places – America’s national wildlife refuges and get free admission on these days in 2015:

January 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 14-16 – Presidents’ Day Weekend
September 26 – National Public Lands Day
October 11 – First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week
November 11 – Veterans Day

The fee holidays are scheduled each year to encourage Americans to visit their public lands and enjoy firsthand the natural and cultural experiences they have to offer. National wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Department of the Interior.

“Our National Wildlife Refuges System is an unparalleled network of public lands dedicated to the conservation of native wildlife and their habitats. This national treasure provides Americans with places to hunt, fish, observe the natural world and experience the outdoors in many exciting ways,” says Service Director Dan Ashe. “If you have never visited a national wildlife refuge before, one of these fee-free days would be the perfect opportunity to see what you’ve been missing.”

Consider planning a refuge visit around a bird festival, wildlife tour or other special event at a refuge near you. Or explore a refuge on your own, walking a refuge trail or driving a wildlife viewing route. Take in seasonal wonders, such as the bugling of elk during the fall rut or the sight of great flocks of migratory birds in spring and fall.

There’s at least one national wildlife refuge in every state, and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Find one close to you here.

National wildlife refuges also help support local communities, pumping $2.4 billion into the national economy and supporting more than 35,000 jobs, according to a 2013 federal report. More than 46 million people visit refuges every year.

Of the nation’s 562 national wildlife refuges, 464 are open to the public. Of those, only 35 refuges charge an entrance fee, generally ranging from $3 to $5. Admission to the others is free. The entrance fee waiver does not cover concessionaire or license fees for some activities such as hunting, fishing or special tours.

Other federal land management agencies that will offer fee-free days in 2015 are: the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service. Please contact each for details.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service also participate in the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass and Federal Recreational Lands Pass programs. These passes provide access to more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, grasslands and other federal lands, which provide a wide variety of nature-based recreational opportunities for the American public.

Five passes are available:

  • Free annual pass to current military members and their dependents.
  • Free lifetime pass for people with permanent disabilities.
  • $10 lifetime senior pass for those aged 62 and over.
  • $80 annual pass for the general public.
  • Free annual pass for volunteers who accrue 250 hours and who do not already have a valid interagency pass.

Learn how you can buy a pass here.

The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation and support local economies. Visit our home page at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

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