National Parks Disability Access Pass

Senior woman pushing husband in wheelchair through forest at Sequoia National Park, California, USA
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Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Access Pass (which replaced the Golden Access Passport in 2007).

What is the Access Pass?

It is a lifetime pass -- available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability -- that provides access to recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies. It also provides the pass owner a discount on some amenity fees such as camping (see Access Pass Benefits section).

What does it cost and how long is it valid?

The Access Pass is free, and it is valid for the lifetime of the pass owner.

Who qualifies for the Access Pass?

The pass may be issued to U.S. citizens or permanent residents that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability that severely limits one or more major life activities. A permanent disability is a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

If I am partially disabled do I qualify for the Access Pass?

The disability requirements for the Access Pass are not based on a percentage of disability. To qualify for the Pass the disability must be permanent and limit one or more major life activities.

How do I prove I'm permanently disabled?

Some examples of acceptable documentation include:

  • Statement by a licensed physician;
  • Document issued by Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income;

Document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

If I have a Golden Access Passport is it still valid?

Yes, Golden Age Passports are valid for a lifetime and are equivalent to the new Access Pass.

What if I have a paper Golden Access Passport and want a new Access Pass instead?

Paper Golden Access Passports may be exchanged free of charge for the new Access Pass with proof of identification, e.g., driver's license, birth certificate, or similar document.

Where can I obtain an Access Pass?

An Access Pass can be obtained in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office. Participating agencies include:

Can my permanently disabled child get an Access Pass?

Yes. This allows the caregivers to enter Federal Recreation sites for free when accompanying the child.

Why can't I order an Access Pass online or through the mail?

You must obtain the Pass in person because the official issuing the Access Pass must review the documentation of your disability and verify your residency.

What does the Access Pass cover?

The Access Pass admits pass owner/s and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and passes owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free.) Note: Photo identification will be requested to verify pass ownership.

The Access Pass also provides the pass owner a discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees such as camping (see Access Pass Benefits section).

Where is the Access Pass honored?

The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Access Pass at sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged.

In addition, the Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Access Pass. (Visitors are always encouraged to contact the site they plan to visit and inquire about pass acceptance before visiting).

Why is the US Army Corps of Engineers accepting Interagency Access Passes but not selling them?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) was not included in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004, which gave agencies the authority to create the new America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

Although the Corps will not sell or issue the new passes, the Corps will accept the new Interagency Senior and Interagency Access Passes or previously issued Golden Age or Access Passports as proof of eligibility for age- and disability-related discounts. More information may be found at http://www.CorpsLakes.us/fees.

What if I forgot to bring my Access Pass?

You can either obtain another Access Pass with proper documentation or pay the applicable Entrance or Standard Amenity fee(s).

My family is traveling in two cars; will one Access Pass let all of us into the site?

No. Only the vehicle with the pass owner is covered. The second vehicle is subject to an entrance fee or must have (or buy) a second pass.

My spouse and I are each riding our own motorcycle or scooter; will one Access Pass cover both our entries?

No. At sites with per vehicle entrance fees, the Access Pass will cover entrance for the pass owner on one motorcycle only.

Does the Access Pass include any discounts at Federal Recreation sites? 

At many sites the Access Pass provides the pass owner a discount on expanded amenity fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours). Inquire at the places you plan to visit.

What are the discount guidelines? 

The pass program is managed by five Federal agencies that operate under different regulations and have different fees. Therefore, the discount program for the Access Pass is not handled in the same way on all Federal recreation lands. The best advice is to always inquire locally.

In general, discounts are honored as follows:

  • Individual Campsites: The discount only applies to the fee for the campsite physically occupied by the pass owner, not to any additional campsite(s) occupied by members of the pass owner's party.
  • Campsites with Utility Hookups: If utility fees are charged separately, there is no discount. The discount may apply if the utility fee is combined (seamless) with the campsite fee.
  • Group Campsites and Facilities (including, but not limited to, group facilities, picnic areas or pavilions): There is no discount for group campsites and other group facilities that charge a flat fee. If the group campsite has a per person fee rate, only the pass owner receives a discount; others using the site pay the full fee.
  • Guided Tours: The pass offers discounts on some guided tours. Only the pass owner receives a discount if one is offered.
  • Transportation Systems: (Inquire Locally)
  • Concessionaire Fees: (Inquire Locally)
  • Special Use Permit Fees: (Inquire Locally)

How can I tell the difference between a Standard Amenity Fee, an Expanded Amenity Fee, a Special Use Permit Fee, or a Concessionaire Fee? 

Since the pass program is managed by five Federal agencies that operate under different regulations and charge different types of fees, it can be confusing to sort out fees, terminology, and to distinguish between a "Federally-managed facility/activity" versus a "concession-managed facility/activity".

Your best bet is to inquire locally regarding your fee and pass acceptance related questions.

Does my Access Pass provide any discounts at Cooperating Association bookstores or gift shops that are located in the Federal Recreation sites? 

No. The Access Pass does not cover discounts in on-site bookstores or gift stores.

Is an Access Pass valid at State Parks or local city/county recreation sites? 

No. The Access Pass is valid only at participating Federal recreation sites.