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If you’re thinking of visiting any National Parks with your family this year, you should consider getting the America the Beautiful Pass. This annual interagency pass gives you access to more than 2,000 recreational areas across the country.
Depending on your travels and the number of people in your family, you could save considerable money by buying annual passes instead of paying fees at each park. Perhaps you have an epic family adventure planned to Zion National Park or a host of other national parks later this year. Buying annual passes now can save you money down the road. Here’s a closer look at the America the Beautiful Pass to help you determine if it makes sense for your family.
What Is the America The Beautiful Pass?
The America the Beautiful Pass is an annual pass that gets you into every U.S. national park and other recreation areas. The pass is also often referred to as the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass or Interagency Annual Pass.
What does the America the Beautiful Pass Cover?
The America the Beautiful Pass gives pass holders access to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies:
- The Forest Service
- The National Park Service
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
It’s also accepted by the US Army Corp of Engineers. The annual pass is accepted at any park or recreation site where entrance or amenity fees are charged.
The pass covers park fees for the pass holder and up to three accompanying adults (ages 16 and older) in the same vehicle.
National Parks Costs
Entrance and other fees depend on the specific park. Some parks offer park-specific annual passes. You can also pay by vehicle, per person, or per motorcycle. Here’s a look at fees charged by popular national parks:
|Badlands National Park||$55||$30||$15||$25|
|Bryce Canyon National Park||$40||$35||$20||$30|
|Cape Cod National Seashore||$60||$25||$15||$20|
|Death Valley National Park||$55||$30||$15||$25|
|Grand Canyon National Park||$70||$35||$20||$30|
|Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park||$55||$30||$15||$25|
|Olympic National Park||$55||$30||$15||$25|
|Rocky Mountain National Park||$70||$35||$20||$30|
|Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore||$45||$25||$15||$20|
|Yellowstone National Park||$70||$35||$20||$30|
|Zion National Park||$70||$35||$20||$30|
How Much is the America the Beautiful Pass?
The America the Beautiful Pass costs $80 per person annually. Passes are available for individuals ages 16 and older. Children ages 16 and under get into all national parks for free.
Each America the Beautiful Pass can have up to two owners (who don’t have to be related).
Where Can You Buy the America the Beautiful National Park Pass?
You can buy the America the Beautiful Pass in person at sites across the country. Check out this searchable list for more information on which sites sell passes. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and verify they are selling passes before traveling to a site.
You can also purchase the annual pass online through the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
How To Get A National Park Pass For Free
Free or discount National Park passes are available for select individuals. Use this link to see what sites offer each of the following passes.
You may qualify for a free Military Pass, available for current US military members and their dependents in the:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- Space Force
- Reserve members
- National Guard members
- US military veterans
- Gold Star Family members
The Access Pass is a lifetime pass available for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
You’ll need to provide documentation of permanent disability and citizenship/residency during the application process. The Access Pass also gives you up to 50% off on some amenity charges like camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services.
Individuals ages 62 and older qualify for discount Senior annual passes. You can purchase a Lifetime Senior Pass for $80 or an Annual Senior Pass for $20.
Individuals who compile 250 volunteer service hours with participating federal agencies qualify for a free annual Volunteer Pass.
4th Grade Pass
4th graders in the U.S. qualify for a free 4th Grade Pass, which is good from the beginning of their 4th grade school year to the end of the following summer (September-August). Home school attendees and other learners ten years of age are also eligible for the free pass (with a valid Every Kid Outdoors paper pass).
Free Days At National Parks
In 2022, there are five days where national parks that usually charge a fee offer free admission to all guests:
- January 17: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 16: First day of National Park Week
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 24: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Here’s a list of participating parks.
Should You Get An America the Beautiful Pass?
Buying annual passes makes sense if you plan to visit several national parks within the next 12 months. If you think you’ll visit three or more sites this next year, the passes will pay for themselves. If not, it’s probably not worth it.
National parks have become a more popular destination in the past couple of years for families, couples, and other visitors. Some parks limit how many guests can enter the park daily. There’s no guarantee that your family will have the option to visit every park you plan to visit.
If you love the outdoors and want a relatively inexpensive way to explore the U.S, the America the Beautiful Pass is a great option.
America the Beautiful Pass FAQs
Does the America the Beautiful Pass get you into every national park?
The America the Beautiful Pass gets you into every national park and over 2,000 Federal recreation sites across the country.
Can kids get into national parks for free?
Kids ages 16 and under are free at all national parks.
Does the America the Beautiful Pass get you into state parks?
No, the America the Beautiful Pass is only valid at participating Federal recreation sites.
How much is America the Beautiful lifetime pass?
There is no lifetime version of the America the Beautiful pass. The only lifetime passes are the Lifetime Senior Pass and the Access Pass, available for individuals with permanent disabilities.
Does America the Beautiful Pass work in national forests?
Yes, the America the Beautiful Pass is valid at National Forest sites. It also includes all the benefits of the Northwest Forest Pass.
What is America the Beautiful Senior Pass?
Eligible individuals ages 62 and older can purchase a national parks Lifetime Senior Pass for $80 or an annual Senior Pass for $20.
What’s your favorite National Park and what do you love about it? Let us know in the comments.
Kevin Payne is the budgeting and family travel enthusiast behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. He’s also the host of the Family Money Adventure Show podcast, where he helps families learn to manage their money better so they can afford to do the things they love.
Kevin is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and travel. He is a regular contributor to USA Today, Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Fox Business, Credible, and CreditCards.com.