How to Get a U.S. National Park Pass

If you visit the parks often, getting an annual pass is worth considering

National Park Service patch on uniform
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If you're a fan of the U.S. national parks, it might make sense to buy an annual or even lifetime pass. The Interagency Pass Program was created to not only make it easier to visit national parks and forests but also to assist older adults and the disabled. Participating agencies include the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation.

The pass series is collectively known as the America the Beautiful: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, and it has something to offer just about everyone.

Annual Pass

The annual parks pass costs $80, is available to everyone, and lasts a year from the month of purchase. It gives you access to all national parks and recreation sites that charge an entrance fee. The pass can be used for all passengers in a non-commercial vehicle (at per vehicle fee areas), as well as for the pass holder plus three adults at per person fee areas. Children under 16 are admitted free.

Annual Pass for U.S. Military

U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserve, and National Guard members can get an annual parks pass for free. As with a regular annual pass, it allows access to national parks and recreation sites that charge an entrance fee. A military pass must be obtained in person at a federal recreation site by showing a common access card (CAC) or military ID (Form 1173).

Senior Annual and Lifetime Pass

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can get an annual pass for $20 or a lifetime pass for $80. You must show identification with a U.S. driver's license, U.S. passport, or Green Card. This pass works the same as the regular annual pass but also provides discounts on some amenity fees.

Senior passes must be purchased in person at a national recreational site or can be purchased online or by mail.

Volunteer Pass

Individuals who accrue 250 hours of volunteer time at one or more recreation sites that are managed by federal agencies get a volunteer pass good for one year for free as a thank-you from the agencies. It has the same benefits as a regular annual pass.

Access Pass

An access pass is a free, lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Those who qualify can get the pass in person at a federal recreation site or by mail. Documentation is required. This pass offers the same benefits as a regular annual pass.

Former Passes

If you have a pass from a previous year with a different name, here's what replaced it:

  • Golden Eagle Passport, National Parks Pass, and Golden Eagle Hologram is replaced by Annual Pass. Former passes will continue to be honored according to the provisions of the pass.
  • Golden Age Passport is replaced by Senior Pass. This may be exchanged free of charge for a new plastic pass.
  • Golden Access Passport is replaced by  Access Pass. This may be exchanged free of charge for a new plastic pass.