During our West Coast road-trip, we planned to visit several National Parks to immerse ourselves into something else rather than just cities in the USA.
As we were driving the entire coast, from Seattle to San Diego, and still making it to some other states like Wyoming and Arizona, there were a lot of parks we could choose from, including a great variety of landscapes.
We were a little worried at first thinking that this would slash down a major chuck of our budget, as there is an admission fee for most of the national parks. But with a little research we came across a card called America The Beautiful issued by the National Parks Service.
America the Beautiful is an admission card that grants access to all the national and federal parks in the USA, for a flat yearly fee of USD 80.
What are the advantages?
- entrance to 2000 national parks, national wildlife refugees and national forests all over the country;
- 1 card covers one non-commercial vehicle and ALL its passengers (up to 4 adults);
- cards are available for nationals and tourists alike and can be purchased at the park’s entrance or online.
Considering the individual cover charges, if you plan to visit several parks and there is at least 2 of you, chances are the card is worth it!
Let’s look into all the money we saved during our trip:
Grand Canyon NP: USD25 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Grand Teton NP: USD25 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Yellowstone NP: USD25 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Glacier NP: USD25 on Summer or USD15 on Winter, per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Redwoods NP: FREE
Yosemite NP: USD20 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)
Total expenses if we would have paid individually = USD 120
Total spent with America The Beautiful card = USD 80
Savings = USD 40
Although in this case we saved a total of USD40 for the both of us, imagine the kind of savings one can enjoy if you stay all year inside the US and plan to visit different parks or vacation (camp, hike..) inside one of them for more than 7 days in a row!
That is one of the things we appreciated the most during our trip around the USA: we noticed these kind of measures are meant to inspire people to go and spend time in nature, enjoying the beautiful places the country prides itself in protecting. No wonder seniors can get an admission card for only USD 10 for life-time and military or handicapped individuals’ admissions are completely free!
Everyone should be able to enjoy America The Beautiful, the admission card and the actual place!
this card is great – and handy that it is valid for an entire year. There are also a few fee free days (like today) that visitors can keep an eye out for.
Thanks for letting us know about the free day Brittany!
That’s really cool for those only visiting in one particular day!
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This is very informative blog. Never knew that such a card exists for visiting USA National Parks. It is really economical if we want to visit more than 4 parks in an year. Thanks dear for this post :)
You’re welcome Suyash.
I hope you enjoy it soon! :)
There’s also a U.S. $10 senior (62 years & older) *lifetime* version of the pass. This is an incredible bargain.
Note too that some of the best parks in California are state ones. Your entrance fee/parking pass for one is good for all others on the same day, as long as their prices are the same or cheaper. Be sure to save these tickets because many parks are close together.
Great! Many thanks for adding these good tips, Don! :)
That’s a great article, Zara. I’m surprise how many people are unaware of the America the Beautiful pass. We used it one year to visit 11 national parks. It easily saved us $200.
I will offer a few additions. The senior pass is no longer $10. It is now $80, but it still includes lifetime access. Best of all, the pass covers all vehicle occupants or up to four people (pass holder plus three adults) when entry fees are charged by the person. They also offer several free annual pass options for current military, volunteers, persons with permanent disabilities, and even 4th graders.
The current information is available at: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm
Thanks so much for the update MJ! :)
Happy to help!