Everything you need to know about the America the Beautiful Pass

If you frequent national parks, national forests, and other federal lands, an annual pass can help you save money when traveling

Love visiting U.S. national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges? If seeking out these natural beauties is high on your list of “must-dos,” there is one thing you should consider as a “must-have”—an America the Beautiful pass. The interagency pass grants you access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites in the U.S. without the hassle of stopping to pay entrance fees. From visiting Yellowstone National Park to parking at Sedona’s beautiful red-rock trailheads, an America the Beautiful pass is your ticket to adventure.

America the Beautiful passes are available to anyone, including international visitors, and cost $80 per year.

Benefits of the America the Beautiful Pass

The America the Beautiful pass covers entrances fees and standard amenity fees (also known as day use fees) at lands managed by the following agencies:

  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • USDA Forest Service
  • Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

In locations where entrance is charged by the vehicle, the America the Beautiful pass covers the driver and all passengers inside your personal vehicle. Traveling with friends? Only one person in the car needs to have a pass. At sites that charge by the person, the America the Beautiful pass covers up to four adults. Children under 15 are admitted for free. 

It’s important to note that the America the Beautiful pass does not cover or discount “additional amenity” fees such as camping, tours, or boat launches; it covers entry fees only. The pass also does not grant access to state parks, county parks, or lands and parks managed by agencies not listed above.

Many popular parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Rocky Mountain, charge $35 per vehicle for entry, so it’s easy to see how an annual pass can add up to big savings for frequent park goers.

Three America the Beautiful passes on top of a map
Photo: Sanna Boman

How to Purchase an America the Beautiful Pass

There are several ways to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass. If you choose to order online or over the phone, keep in mind that you’ll need to physically have the pass in hand to use it at a federal recreation site—receipts proving your purchase or photos of your pass are not accepted. Be sure to purchase your pass with enough time to receive it before your planned trip.

An America the Beautiful pass is valid for use for 1 year from the month of purchase, meaning that if you purchased it on October 1, 2022, you could use the pass until October 31, 2023.

In person: America the Beautiful passes are available at more than 1,100 locations in the U.S., including park offices and ranger districts. Most staffed fee stations, such as national park entry booths, sell passes. For a full list, check out places to get interagency passes.

Online: America the Beautiful passes are available for sale online at the USGS store and at some retailers, including REI and L.L. Bean. REI donates 10 percent of its pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

Phone: To purchase a pass via phone, call 1-888-275-8747, extension 1, between 8:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

Once you have your pass in hand, keep a close eye on it—America the Beautiful passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

a line of people watching the old faithful geyser at yellowstone park
Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. | Photo: Sara Sheehy

Other federal recreation access passes

Before purchasing your America the Beautiful pass, take a look through the list of additional access pass options. While these passes aren’t available to everyone, they offer significant cost savings for those who qualify, and provide the same great access to federal recreation sites. In some cases, they even allow the pass holder to receive discounted rates on camping and other added amenities.

Senior Pass

If you’re 62 or older, you’re in luck. The Senior Pass is a lifetime ($80) or annual ($20) pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. In addition to covering entrance to federal recreation sites, the Senior Pass may also give you a 50 percent discount on amenities like camping and tours.

Military Pass

The annual Military Pass is free for current U.S. military members and their dependents, as well as veterans and Gold Star Family members. Proof of eligibility is required.

Fourth Grade Pass

The Fourth Grade Pass is free for fourth graders (and home-schooled learners who are 10 years of age) from September 1 of their fourth-grade year through the following August 31. The pass covers the pass holder and all accompanying passengers in a private vehicle, such as parents, guardians, and other family members or friends.

Related What to know about the National Park Service’s ‘Every Kid Outdoors’ program

Access Pass 

The Access Pass is a free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have permanent disabilities. Proof of eligibility and residency or citizenship is required. In addition to providing access to federal recreation sites, the pass may also be used for a 50 percent discount on some additional amenity fees, such as campsites and boat launches. 

Volunteer Pass

Those who volunteer with federal agencies may be eligible for a free annual pass. This pass is for volunteers with at least 250 service hours and is only available through your volunteer coordinator.

Remove Ads