Skip to Content

What Is A National Park Pass for RVers?

What Is A National Park Pass for RVers?

Attendance at National Parks and Monuments in the United States has reached fever pitch in recent years. 

If seeing the Grand Canyon up close and personal or walking the battlefields at Gettysburg is on your must-see list, then you might want to invest in an annual National Park Pass.

Today we’ll make this complicated yearly pass a little bit easier to understand.

The pass itself is quite simple…but, there are a few variations that apply to unique situations.

Let’s dive in!

Grand Canyon National Park

What Exactly is the National Park Pass? 

If you are longing for exclusive entry into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, look no further. The “America The Beautiful” Pass has you covered!

This rather innocent-looking piece of plastic is the size of a credit card. But, it packs a huge punch when it comes to accessing all of the United States’ most scenic and historical destinations!

Most national sites charge an entrance fee, either by car or by person.  These fees can add up quickly!

The average price to enter most National Park Units is around $30 per car or $20 per person, every day.

If you plan on visiting more than two National Park Units per year, a National Parks Pass is a necessity. These include National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores, Preserves and more.

A National Parks Pass grants entry into all National Park Service Units, and is only $80 per year. It’s a no-brainer… it pays for itself in just a few uses.

Yosemite National Park

Where Can I Use My National Park Pass?

Passes issued from the National Park Service provides entry into all of the National Parks across America. But it doesn’t stop there!

Your National Park Pass can also be used to visit:

  • Any National Monuments
  • National Historic Sites
  • All National Forests, Grasslands, Preserves, and Seashores
  • National Historical Parks
  • Army Corps of Engineer (COE) Recreational Areas
  • Bureau of Land Management areas
  • Fish and Wildlife locations
  • And, regions overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation. 

The fees covered at these areas include entrance and day use fees. Fees are covered for the driver and all passengers in a vehicle. Alternatively, fees are covered for up to 4 adults if not in a car.

Yellowstone National Park

Different Types of National Park Passes

The Park Service has created a variety of passes. There are passes to benefit seniors, military personnel, those with permanent disabilities, and federal agency volunteers, as well US 4th graders! 

Here’s the current breakdown of costs by pass:

  • America the Beautiful Pass:  $80 annual pass available to everyone
  • Military Pass:  Free annual pass for current military members. This includes thosee in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard and Reserves and their dependents
  • Seniors:  $20 annual pass or $80 lifetime pass for US citizens and permanent residents age 62 or older.
  • Access Pass:  Free lifetime pass for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
  • Volunteer Pass: Free annual pass for volunteers with 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the interagency pass program
  • Annual 4th Grade Pass:  Free to US 4th graders with a valid “Every Kid Outdoors” paper pass. Learn how to get this pass below.

If you want to learn how to get these passes, keep reading!

Does a National Park Pass Work for State Parks?

If you enjoy exploring our National Parks, chances are that state parks may also be high on your list of visits. You might be wondering: does a National Park Pass work for State Parks? The answer is: no.

National Park Passes are only accepted at the national sites.  Each state has their own state park pass, providing access to unique locations around the country. 

To purchase a state park pass for a specific state, Google “(State Name) State Park Pass”.

How To Buy A National Park Pass

You can buy a National Park Pass in a few different ways. Each pass is issued for a year from the month of purchase, excluding the Senior Lifetime and Access Passes.

Purchase a National Parks Pass one of these four ways:

  1. In person at a Federal Recreation Site that issues passes. You can buy a pass at the gate of most major National Parks.  Click here for a list of those locations.
  2. Online at the USGS store.
  3. By phone at:  888-ASK USGS (1-888-275-8747), extension 2 (Hours of operation are 8 am to 4 pm Mountain Time)
  4. By mail

To help you easily get the appropriate pass, here is a list of options to apply for each pass type:

  • America the Beautiful – purchase pass in person, online, or by phone
  • Military Pass – receive pass in person by showing military ID or Common Access Card
  • Senior Annual or Lifetime Pass – purchase pass in person, online or by mail
  • Access Pass – receive pass in person, online or by mail
  • Volunteer Pass – receive pass from issuing federal agency
  • Annual 4th Grade Pass – get paper “Every Kid Outdoors Pass” here

Is the National Parks Pass Worth It?

A pass to discover some of the country’s most beautiful and preserved destinations should be on every RVer’s shopping list.  A National Park Pass saves you money, and pays for itself within the first 2-3 uses!

It may be small in appearance, but it contains enormous benefits. This pass provides access to stunning landscapes and memorable adventures. And, it introduces you to the colorful characters of American history. 

Grab yours before you hit the road, so you won’t miss a minute of exploration on your travels!

Olympic National Park

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

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

  1. Charles Mathis says:

    I bought a lifetime pass the month I turned 62. It has more than paid for itself within the first year. It’s soooo nice to be able to drive up to the front gate, show the pass and drive right in. However, understand that it doesn’t give you everything free. Camp sites still have some cost, but usually you get a 50 percent discount.

  2. RAY CARPIO says:

    I have a Senior Pass I received at the Grand Canyon years ago. On the back it reads AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL * THE NATIONAL PARKS AND FEDERAL RECREATIOM LANS PASS * . Is this the same or equal to what you’re describing ??? Regards Ray and Rose

  3. Pete Clark says:

    Gettysburg is not a good example. The pass doesn’t help you there. The facility with the film and battlefield in the round is privately run and there are fees. The battlefields are open to the public without access fees. Great article. Thanks!

  4. Barbara says:

    Yes, same

  5. Dave J says:

    I dont believe they’ll help st BLMs LTVAs either.

  6. Erik says:

    You didn’t mention that all veterans and Gold Star families will have permanent free access to National Parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior, effective November 11, 2020.

  7. Mike says:

    Also, 5th graders are going to be included in “Every Kid Outdoors” pass.

  8. Mark O Weiner says:

    A National Park pass is absolutely the best value and if you are 62 or older get the lifetime pass, but ONLY if you intend to use it. There’s no reason to purchase this if you are not planning to go.

    Yes, of course, no pass will help you get there, but, the 50 percent discount on camping is really nice. We’ve stayed at many National Parks and saved a lot of money.

    Finally, National Parks are very special; each of them has their own personality and unique experience. If you have not experienced a visit to many of the National Parks you are missing one of most wonderful adventures in the USA. You won’t find too many experiences like a visit to the National Parks.

    State Parks can be very nice; but, they are on a smaller scale, have less amenities, can be more expensive, no discounts and can be harder to get into especially in high traffic areas.

    Don’t forget about BLM lands, they are less populated and some offer very nice experiences.

    One thing about most National Parks; cellphone service is extremely limited..