Minda Lou

Minda Lou

Minda Lou

Mike Lewis/ Getty Images

Starting in 2024, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all national parks on Juneteenth (June 19th) as one of six annual fee-free days. This provides an excellent opportunity for Americans to visit and appreciate the natural wonders and cultural heritage preserved in our national parks.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that all enslaved people were free, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. In 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday.

As the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth is still building its traditions. But one meaningful way to honor the day is by visiting the public lands and waters that belong to all Americans. National parks preserve our country’s greatest natural wonders, historic sites, and cultural heritage for current and future generations. Having free entry to these incredible places on Juneteenth opens them up for everyone to experience.

So, on June 19, 2024, consider planning a trip to a national park, either in the Carolinas or elsewhere in the U.S. It’s a chance to get outdoors, learn more about our nation’s history and identity, and celebrate freedom. With free admission on this important day, the National Park Service is affirming that these special places are accessible and welcoming to all.

North and South Carolina are home to several national parks that will be offering free entry on Juneteenth.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    The most visited national park in the U.S., known for its diverse plant and animal life, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore

    A chain of barrier islands with pristine beaches, historic lighthouses, and opportunities for swimming, fishing, and birdwatching.
  • Cape Lookout National Seashore

    Undeveloped barrier islands accessible only by boat, popular for shelling, camping, lighthouse climbing, and wild horse spotting.
  • Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

    The home and farm of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg. Offers house tours, hiking trails, and encounters with descendants of Sandburg’s champion dairy goat herd. 
  • Congaree National Park

    Home to the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S. Southeast. Known for its giant hardwoods, hiking trails, and opportunities for canoeing and kayaking.  
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park

    The site where the American Civil War began in 1861. Consists of three sites in Charleston Harbor: the original Fort Sumter, the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island.
  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

    Interprets the life of Charles Pinckney, a principal author and signer of the United States Constitution. Includes the partially preserved Snee Farm, a Lowcountry plantation that once grew indigo and rice.

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