wide angle view of Crater Lake form the top of Watchman's Peak, beautiful landscape in Oregon

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America The Beautiful Park Pass: Is It Worth Getting For Your Trip?

No matter where you live, you have likely seen photos of national parks in the United States. The National Parks, forests, and monuments are the most incredible sights in America. The best way to see them is with an annual America The Beautiful Park Pass!

Also known as the U.S. National Park Pass, the pass gives you entry into the most amazing and gorgeous outdoor spaces for nature in the country.

The Narrows at Zion National Park, Utah is one of the sites you can use America The Beautiful Park Pass

These aren’t your regular parks but bucket list-worthy places to see that will leave you speechless at mother nature’s beauty.

With this guide, explore the pros of getting an America The Beautiful Pass and how it can save you a ton of money!

What Is America The Beautiful Pass?

America The Beautiful Park Pass gives you access to the best national parks and natural wonders in the country.

You can use America The Beautiful Pass for 1 year and it includes admission into over 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national forests, and national monuments.

That is an incredible bargain if you know you plan to see at least a few of these sites within a year!

An America The Beautiful Pass in a hanging placard.

If you know you will visit at least three parks or sites in a year it is more than worth getting the America The Beautiful Park Pass.

On just one road trip, I was able to use it at 6 different locations and plan to use it the rest of the year!

How Much Do U.S. National Parks Cost To Visit?

Knowing how much it costs to visit National Parks can help you decide whether it is worth getting the U.S. National Park Pass or America The Beautiful Pass.

For most national parks, forests, and monuments the price ranges between $10 and $35 to enter.

Yellowstone's grand prismatic spring is free to enter with a U.S. National Park Pass.

If you are planning to visit the bigger and more famous National Parks such as Yosemite, Zion, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon they will all be $35.

So, you can see that if you visit 3 parks in one year without a pass then you would be spending $105 at a minimum. That would only increase if you visit more throughout the year.

Note: This cost is by the vehicle not per person when factoring expenses when visiting.

Where To Buy America The Beautiful Pass

There are a few options when purchasing an America The Beautiful Park Pass with buying it online being the easiest.

The simplest way to purchase the pass is to buy it online and the physical park pass will be delivered to your home within 5 – 7 days.

If you are leaving on your trip and need it before that, there are two options. When purchasing online you can request to pick it up at an REI store if you live near one.

Or if that doesn’t work, choose to have the pass delivered to your hotel that you will be going to instead of your home.

You can buy passes at some national parks, forests, and sites but not at all. The last thing you want to do is get there and there don’t sell them!

Instead, purchase ahead of time and determine which address is best to have it delivered to. An America The Beautiful Pass is $80 but well worth it after reading my previous point above.

Buy Your America The Beautiful Park Pass Today!

Note: You NEED A PHYSICAL Pass to enter any park, forest, or recreation site. There is no digital option and you can’t show an email that you have purchased one.

What Is Not Covered With America The Beautiful Park Pass

As previously mentioned, you have free entry to over 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national forests, and national monuments.

Yep, that is a ton! As you can see there are plenty of places to use the pass and keep you busy for months if you have the time.

What is not included in this U.S. National Park Pass is:

Any parks on Indian reservations such as Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon. For these, you will still need to pay.

Any state parks within the United States as they are not federally managed.

There are a few exceptions such as with the Grand Canyon. You can use it at the North and South Rim. But you can’t use it at Grand Canyon West where the Skywalk is located.

Having said that, there are so many parks to visit that are included with the annual park pass that it is a great deal.

Delicate Arch at sunset in Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Tips For Using America The Beautiful Pass

Even though you can get into countless parks for free with the pass, some parks are requiring reservations during peak times.

Meaning you just need to make a reservation but it is free with the pass. So, if you are planning to visit specific parks, check ahead to see if they require a reservation in advance. Additional tips for visiting national parks:

  • Keep your national park pass in your car so you always know where it is.
  • Leave no trace. Carry out your own trash and stay on designated trails.
  • Stay away and keep a distance from wildlife no matter how cute they are!
  • Make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water with a reusable water bottle.
  • If you are driving from home, keep snacks, food, and drinks in a travel cooler.
  • Wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots.
  • During the summer months keep mosquitos away with mosquito spray or wipes.

You can use your national park pass at White Sands National Park New Mexico, USA.

Can I Share My America The Beautiful Pass With Friends & Family?

The short answer is no. When you receive your pass, there is a spot where two different people can be listed on the pass.

So, you and one other person can share the pass. Unless you trust the other person that isn’t part of your household to not lose it, I would avoid sharing.

The park pass isn’t tied to any specific vehicle. It is by person. So as long as you have it, and your name is on it, then you can use it in different vehicles.

Do I Need A Physical America The Beautiful Park Pass?

It never seems to fail when going on any vacation or road trip that you forget something important.

You do need a physical park pass with you!

And no, you can’t show a picture or an email confirming the purchase. You need the real thing in your hand to get into parks.

An America The Beautiful Park Pass hanging from my car rearview mirror.

The same goes if you accidentally leave it at home. I leave mine in my car so that there is no chance that I will get to a national park and realize I don’t have it.

Buy Your America The Beautiful Pass Today!

What Happens If I Lose My America The Beautiful Pass?

If you lose your America The Beautiful Pass, then you are out of luck. There are no replacements so you can’t request another one.

You would have to buy another one to take advantage of the free entry into the parks and forests.

It is a bummer but that just means you want to take care of it and don’t lose it. Treat it like your driver’s license or credit cards and you should be fine.

Additional U.S. National Park Passes To Consider

Prior to purchasing an America The Beautiful Park Pass, find out if you qualify to get a discounted or free U.S. National Park Pass!

Military Pass

A free annual U.S. National Park Pass for all current US military members and their dependents. It also includes US military veterans!

Senior Pass

For U.S. citizens or permanent resident seniors that are 62 years old or older can qualify to get a lifetime senior pass for $80.

Yep, for the rest of your life! No more needing to purchase an annual pass.

But for some reason I can’t fathom if you don’t want to buy the lifetime pass then you can get a 1 year senior pass for $20. But way better savings to get the lifetime pass.

4th Grade Pass

A free pass for those in the 4th grade and 10 years of age! I’m not sure why its only offered to 4th graders but hey take advantage of it if you can.

It is only offered during the 4th grade school year plus the summer after. So, to maximize your usage of it, get it at the beginning of the school year.

Access Pass

Free annual lifetime U.S. National Park Pass for individuals that are either a US citizen or permanent resident that have permanent disabilities.

Volunteer Pass

Free annual U.S. National Parks Pass for those that volunteer 250  service hours with federal agencies that are part of the program.

Hiking trails through giant redwoods in Muir Woods near San Francisco, California, USA.

America The Beautiful Pass Parks List

For a list of the top national parks, forests, and monuments to check off your bucket list you can visit the national park service page.

Or you can sign up to receive my emails and get a handy checklist for keeping track of the most popular parks to visit!

FAQs For America The Beautiful Pass

How Do I Use My U.S. National Park Pass?

Once you have your park pass, just drive to the national park or monument on the list.

When you pull up to the entrance or gate, just show it to the ranger on duty. They may ask you to hang it from your rearview mirror, hand you a map, and answer any questions you have.

You will notice in the photo that the month you purchase it has a hole punched. To maximize your year and get 13 months, purchase your America The Beautiful Pass the first week of the month.

So if I bought the first week in May, my pass will expire at the end of May the following year!

The back of an America The Beautiful Pass that shows a punch hole in the month of purchase.

Some parks will allow you to enter the park before they officially open if you already have an America The Beautiful Pass.

For example, I visited White Sands National Park before anyone was on duty but that was no problem! I just hung my pass from my mirror and went ahead on my way…

Does America The Beautiful Park Pass Cover State Parks?

Unfortunately, no. An America The Beautiful Pass only covers national parks, national forests, national monuments, and recreation sites that are under federal protection.

Who Can Purchase An America The Beautiful Pass?

Anyone can purchase an America The Beautiful Pass also known as the U.S. National Park Pass.

You do not need to be a US Citizen to buy one.

The only exceptions are for the additional pass options like Senior Pass, Military Pass, and Access Pass.

Sunset at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, California, USA.

How Much Does An Annual America The Beautiful Pass Cost?

The cost for an America The Beautiful Pass is $80 per year. There is no limit to the number of national parks, forests, or monuments you can visit during that time.

Buy Your America The Beautiful Park Pass Today!

How Long Does It Take To Get America The Beautiful Pass?

Once you order an America The Beautiful Park Pass, you should receive it within 5 – 7 days. But most receive within 4 – 5 days.

If you need it sooner, you can pick it up at an REI store or have it delivered to your hotel address where you know you will be arriving.

Turret arch through the North Window at Arches National Park in Utah is a park you can use your U.S. National Park Pass at.

Are There Any Fee-Free Days At National Parks?

Yes, there are a total of 5 days in the year where anyone can enter a U.S. National Park free of charge. The days are:

  • January 17th – The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • April 16th – First day of National Park Week
  • August 4th – The anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • September 24th – National Public Lands Day
  • November 11th – Veterans Day

What Was The First U.S. National Park?

In 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the United States.

What Are The Most Recent National Parks In America?

The 5 national parks that have been recently added in the past few years are:

  • New River Gorge National Park & Preserve (West Virginia)
  • White Sands National Park (New Mexico)
  • Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)
  • Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)
  • Pinnacles National Park (California)

The beautiful Blue Badlands at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is another site you can use a park pass at.

Is Getting An America The Beautiful Park Pass Worth It?

Yes! If you want to see the most beautiful and stunning natural wonders in the United States then you don’t want to miss out on getting your very own America The Beautiful Pass.

Once you get your pass you will be inspired to hit the open road and see as many of these bucket list places as you can! Plus, with the cost savings of using the pass, why not?

Buy Your America The Beautiful Pass Today!

View over the south and north rim part in grand canyon national park from the helicopter, USA.

Got Travel Insurance?

Don’t leave home without travel insurance as you never know what might happen on a trip! It is always when you least expect it that something can go wrong like getting sick, in an accident, or cancellation of some sort.

And when out hiking or visiting waterfalls, a slip can quickly become a twisted ankle or possibly worse. Get a no-obligation quote from two trusted travel insurance companies for peace of mind on your next trip!

World Nomads Travel Insurance

SafetyWing Travel Insurance

Looking For More Travel Inspiration?

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7 Amazing Places To See Giant Redwoods In Northern California

15 Best Things To Do In Petrified Forest National Park: One Day Guide

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: 11 Best Places To Stop

17 Fun Things To Do In Hot Springs, Arkansas For First Timers

7 Best Ways To Spend A Perfect Day In Tucson, Arizona

7 Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel And Hiking

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  1. The America The Beuatiful Park Pass sounds incredibly good value, Vanessa. And good to know it comes with the added convenience of never having to worry if you can buy tickets at the Park’s entrance when you arrive.

    1. It really is a great deal if you plan to see a handful of national parks and monuments! 🙂 There are a few that you still have to reserve a time ticket to balance the crowds but it is still free such as with Yosemite during the summer months.

  2. So far I’ve lucked out and the National Parks I’ve visited have been free. But I’m about to start needing the pass to get to the next ones on my list!

  3. Great post! :] I am a firm believer that this is the best deal ever, hehe. I got this for the first time when I was planning a cross-country road tour and that $80 got me to 22 national parks and several national monuments + forests for free! <3

    1. Thank you! Oh wow, way to go! That is awesome that you got to visit that many national parks and maximize your pass usage! I need to step up my game and see more. 🙂

  4. I have never heard of this pass before. It seems like a great option for people who often travel to the national parks that are listed on this pass. It’s always good to save some money!

    1. If it makes you feel better I live in the US and only found out about it a few years ago. I am now taking advantage of having it and seeing a lot of cool places. If you will be seeing a few or more then yes a great pass to get. 🙂

  5. I honestly think this is SUCH incredible value! Although if we had some holidays in America, I’d want as much time as possible to make that $80 even more worth it! 😉 The USA National Parks really are the parts of the States I’d like to explore the most!

    1. If you just visit three, you at least break even which is why it is such a great deal. I am embarrassed to admit I only found out about it two years ago. It’s true, most of the national parks are the prettiest places in the country. Let’s just say I will be buying another when mine expires! 🙂

    1. Such a great deal that took me way too many years to learn about. Haha. I agree, once you have it the excitement to see more parks follows! 🙂

  6. I totally agree with getting a US National Park Pass. It has always paid off for us because we visit several parks in the same trip. Although sadly we rarely do more parks before the year is out. But it was interesting to find many spots not covered by the pass. Great tips!

    1. That’s awesome that you got an America The Beautiful Pass and found it worth getting too. It is a good incentive to visit many parks and a great value! 🙂

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