4th & 5th Graders Get in FREE to Sleeping Bear Dunes & Other National Parks Through Summer 2021!

Get in Free Sleeping Bear Dunes

Families of 4th & 5th Graders Get in Free at Sleeping Bear Dunes through August 2021

Most people don’t realize that the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan will let your whole family in for free if your 4th or 5th grader is participating in the national Every Kid Outdoors program. (This is the same program that is giving out free Christmas trees to 4th & 5th graders.)

Visits to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore have been more popular than ever, and we predict that trend will continue into 2021 as families look for fun ways to experience the outdoors together.

While Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore currently does not charge an entrance fee, one is being considered.

The fee for an entrance pass to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is $25 per vehicle as of 2020.

How to Get in Free

In 2015, President Obama announced the creation of a new initiative, Every Kid in a Park, that would allow 4th-grade students (along with their families) free access to National Parks in the US.

The goal was to get kids away from screens and into the outdoors.

From day one, the goal of the program was to provide a pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters for a full year. But, because the name of the program, and the publicity surrounding its announcement, emphasized parks, most people did not realize that the passes also work in National Lakeshores, National Forests, and other federal properties.

The name of the pass has been changed to Every Kid Outdoors to help correct the public’s perception of the program.

In Michigan, we have one National Lakeshore where this pass comes into play: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore 1
On top of the Dune Overlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan

Getting the Pass is simple.

Fourth-grade students just need to visit the Every Kid Outdoors website, participate in a short educational activity, and then download a paper voucher to print and bring with them on their visit. Every Kid Outdoors begins each year on September 1 and goes through August 31.

5th Grade Students can also get free passes through Aug 31, 2021.

This is because they missed out on using their passes as a 4th grader due to the pandemic. As a result, current fifth-grade students can download a voucher to access the National Parks, Lakeshores, Forests, and other lands included in the program.

How to Use Your Pass

  • Show your voucher to a ranger when you enter. If there is no ranger, leave it on the dashboard of your car.
  • If you visit a site that charges entrance fees per person, the voucher admits all children under 16 and up to three adults for free.
  • If your group visits a site that charges vehicle entrance fees, the voucher admits all children under 16 and all adults in up to one passenger vehicle.
  • If you arrive at a site on a bicycle, the voucher admits all children under 16 and up to three adults on bicycles.

Rules

The passes come with several rules.

One is that the student holding the pass must be present in order for the family to access free admission.

Other important rules include:

  • You must print the voucher. They can’t accept electronic versions of the paper for access.
  • No refunds are given for previously purchased passes, or if you forget your voucher when you visit.
  • If you lose your voucher, get a new one by visiting the website and printing a new one.
  • Commercial vehicles can’t use a voucher to get in.

Participating Michigan & National Destinations

Michigan Destinations

Every Kid Outdoor Passes will get your 4th or 5th grader into more than Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan.

If you’re into nature or backpacking, you might want to use it to visit Isle Royale National Park up in Lake Superior.

The pass is also good for access to River Raising National Battlefield Park in SE Michigan.

Michigan National Forests and Grasslands access is included with the pass as well. There are so many of these places scattered throughout Michigan. You can find activities and locations by using the US Forest Service’s online visitor map.

Some of the National Forest access points, like in the Huron-Manistee National Forests, require a parking permit. Your pass can waive that fee.

National Destinations

Of course, the passes work to get your family into any of the National Parks in the US.

Heading to Zion, the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone National Park this summer? Be sure to bring your 4th or 5th grader and their pass along to get the entrance fee waived!

 You can find more ideas for trips and ways to use your pass on Recreation.gov.

4th graders get in free national parks

What to Expect at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes is more than just a series of big sand dunes.

The National Lakeshore has so much going for it, and is so spread out, that you’re going to want more than a day to explore.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect when you use your pass at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

sleeping bear dunes michigan

Some of the highlights at Sleeping Bear Dunes include:

Sleeping Bear Dune Climb

Climbing the massive dune climb

platte river tubing leads to lake michigan beach

Swimming in Lake Michigan

alligator hill sleeping bear dunes

Hiking to epic views

stargazing sleeping bear dunes

Stargazing from the Dune Climb

glen haven sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore biking trail

Biking the Heritage Trail

glen arbor cherry republic

Exploring the shops in Glen Arbor

sleeping bear dunes overlook

Stopping everywhere along Pierce Stocking Drive

For the full rundown on how to have the best family experience at Sleeping Bear Dunes, read this.

Sleeping bear dunes traverse city hike
Empire Bluff Trail at Sunset – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Michigan Travel Resources

When you’re done at Sleeping Bear Dunes, there’s a lot more explore in Michigan.

Use these resources to plan your next MI travel adventure and have fun!

Detroit Zoo Trip Planner: Fantastic Things to Do on Your Visit
Detroit Zoo: A Lovely Park with Incredible Animal Views Detroit Zoo8450 W 10 Mile Rd,  Royal Oak, MI 48067 Located 14 ...
Read More
michigan cabin getaways
Escaping to a cabin for a little R&R might be just the Michigan family vacation you need. Renting a cabin ...
Read More
sunflower fields in michigan
Why Visit Sunflower Fields in Michigan? Sunflowers for miles. It's a view you won't get over anytime soon, and if ...
Read More
Arcadia Michigan Marsh Nature Preserve boardwalk
The Little Town of Arcadia Michigan Now Has a Big Draw Tucked away in little burg up north is the ...
Read More
great wolf lodge traverse city
Tips and tricks for families interested in visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Now with day passes, Great Wolf ...
Read More
Ope! We Just Discovered 102  Free Things to do in Michigan
These free Michigan family activities help you explore the Mitten State on a budget. There are free Michigan travel ideas ...
Read More
Leelanau Peninsula Glen Arbor Leland
About Leelanau Michigan Where is the Leelanau Peninsula? Leelanau County, in its entirety, is a peninsula is located in Michigan ...
Read More
Summer Things to Do in Traverse City MI
Beaches and outdoor summer fun are the reason families return to Traverse City, Michigan year after year. Festivals, bike trails, ...
Read More
things to do in detroit
Detroit made us feel right at home. There's an energy in that city right now that comes with hope and ...
Read More
michigan summer vacation
Michigan summer is here! Time to enjoy the Mitten state with all its lakes and beaches and beauty. Hoping to ...
Read More
wizard of oz garden
The Storybook Comes to Life in This Fairy Tale-like Park Make plans to visit the free outdoor Wizard of Oz ...
Read More
Muskegon Zip Line
Muskegon now has a zip line to add to its growing list of attractions! The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park ...
Read More
millennium park grand rapids michigan
Over 10 miles of hiking trails, mostly paved. The Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network connects with Kent Trails and with ...
Read More
Get in Free Sleeping Bear Dunes
Families of 4th & 5th Graders Get in Free at Sleeping Bear Dunes through August 2021 Most people don’t realize ...
Read More
Ocqueoc Falls is a Hidden Treasure: You Can't Beat this Northern MI Waterfall Swimming Hole
The Only Place in Lower MI Where You Can Swim in a Waterfall Swimming in a waterfall might seem like ...
Read More
Kayaking, Canoeing & River Tubing in Michigan: 18 Unbeatable Places to Paddle on MI's West Side
Kayaking, Canoeing & River Tubing Destinations - West MI Wondering where to go kayaking, canoeing, river tubing, or find a ...
Read More
lake arvesta water park michigan
Water Obstacles, Water Slides, Mermaid Shows, Pickleball & More at Arvesta Sports Complex Arvesta Sports Complex at Lake Arvesta Farms05264 ...
Read More
platte river tubing michigan
Families have floated the Platte River for generations, and for good reason. It's easy to maneuver a kayak, stand up ...
Read More
boat tubing boat rentals grand rapids michigan
Use These Boat Rentals to Get Your Family Out on the Water in West Michigan You don't have to own ...
Read More
Michigan’s Adventure 2021: What You Need to Know
Michigan's Adventure Theme Park Michigan Adventure4750 Whitehall Rd, Muskegon, MI 49445 Michigan Adventure opens for the season on May 29, ...
Read More
Things to Do in Grand Rapids Michigan
If spending time in Grand Rapids, Michigan is on your list and you're looking for things to do in Grand ...
Read More
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Family Guide
Go for a day or a week, but get to Sleeping Bear Dunes at least once. This National Lakeshore is ...
Read More
portage point resort michigan pool
Choose Your Own Adventure at Portage Point Resort A hundred years ago, you'd likely need to take a Lake Michigan ...
Read More
rockport state park recreation area michigan
Meet Michigan's 100th State Park: Rockport State Recreation Area Michigan welcomed its 100th state park into the fold in 2012 ...
Read More
8 Clever Camping Hacks for Your Next Michigan Vacation
These Camping Hacks Will Help you Ace Camping Season Camping season is upon us, and whether your family rustic camps ...
Read More
drive in movie theaters michigan
Michigan Has 9 Drive-In Movie Theaters - Here's Where to Find Them Drive-in movies are having a moment right now ...
Read More
best camping in michigan for families
Where to Find the Best Campgrounds in Michigan The thought of camping in other states has me curious - do ...
Read More
The Best 7-Day Upper Peninsula Michigan Itinerary: Marquette, Pictured Rocks with Kids & More
Visiting the Upper Peninsula with your family will be an adventure filled with waterfalls, lakes, and natural wonders you'll never ...
Read More
Hiking-at-Old-Indian-Trail-Sleeping-Bear-Dunes-Boy-looking-at-native-bending-tree
This article was originally reported on in 2018 and updated in 2021.  Lyme Disease is Spreading Across Michigan - But ...
Read More
25+ Best Fairs, Festivals & Carnivals in Michigan for Families - 2021
The 2021 List of the Best Fairs, Festivals & Carnivals in Michigan Fairs, festivals, and carnivals are back for 2021! ...
Read More
Tulip Time is Back in 2021! Here's How It'll Be Different
Feature image courtesy of Tulip Time. Carnival, Dockside Tours and NEW Costume Exhibit & Market Tulip Time in Holland, MI ...
Read More
Best Things to Do on Mackinac Island with kids
Fitting in All of the Things to Do on Mackinac Island Will Take at Least One Full Day Many visitors ...
Read More
things to do in manistee mi
Ever Pass by Manistee, MI? Here's What You're Missing It's no secret that if you're vacationing in Michigan, you have ...
Read More
great wolf lodge traverse city water park
Michigan Indoor Water Parks are all Around the Mitten Treat the Kids to a day Poolside at an Indoor Water ...
Read More
road trip ideas and Drivable Vacation spots and ideas for Michiganders
Drivable Spring Break & Summer Vacation Destinations - Day Trips & Longer Staying close to home or driving to a ...
Read More
vacation rental house with pool in michigan
How to Find a Great Vacation House with a Pool Swimming the days away in a private pool is an ...
Read More
Why Crystal Mountain Should be on your SUMMER Bucket List
Crystal Mountain is More than a Ski Resort - It’s a Blast in Summer, Too! My family loves Crystal Mountain ...
Read More
Chateau-Chantal-feature
Traverse City in the Winter: The Romantic Getaway you Never Knew You’ve Always Wanted Rejuvenating, peaceful, and timely are what ...
Read More
torch lake michigan
The Best Ways to Experience Torch Lake Nothing shouts “summertime” like a trip Up North for us Michiganders! Starry nights, ...
Read More
muskegon ice skating trail
Hey Grand Rapids! You are just a 60-minute drive away from a winter adventure sports wonderland called the Muskegon Luge ...
Read More
shanty creek resort michigan
I hope you get a chance to steal away to an Up North Michigan winter playground like Shanty Creek Resort ...
Read More
Michigan Winter: Best Places to Sled, Ski, Skate, Snowshoe, Snowmobile & Experience Sled Dogs
All the Ways to Have the Best Michigan Winter Fun At the sight of the first falling snowflake, my kids ...
Read More
Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan Skiing
Learn more about Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan ski vacation accommodations, other things to do at the resort, the food, information ...
Read More
Snow Tubing in Michigan
Snow Tubing in Michigan is the Perfect Way to Spend Time Outside in Winter If you like sledding, you're going ...
Read More
Rent this Secret, Spectacular Luxury Traverse City Loft in the Heart of Downtown for the Ultimate Up North Michigan Getaway
You're Going to Like it Here Few people have discovered that you can rent the secret, oversized urban luxury loft ...
Read More
grand rapids childrens museum
Museums in Michigan Offer a World of Learning Right in Your Backyard I grew up in rural Michigan and going ...
Read More
School-on-the-Road-TC-Feature-Boys-finding-treasures-on-the-beach
TC Tourism helped with trip planning and passes for some of the activities mentioned below. All opinions are my own ...
Read More
How to Get Smack In the Middle of Michigan Fall Colors: 9 Thrilling Adventures for 2020
9 Exciting Ways to Experience Michigan Fall Colors You Will Want to Get Out of the Car Michiganders know that ...
Read More
Healey's Outback Ranch & Guesthouse
How About a Michigan Farm Stay Getaway When it comes to special weekend getaways, Michigan is on the map with ...
Read More
"Museums for All" Gives FREE Michigan Museum Admission to Families with an EBT Card
Visit 35 Michigan Museums for FREE (or up to $3) with Museums for All Your family could visit over 35 ...
Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *