October 7 2010 by Julie Drossos
Those who are fortunate enough to live in the United States are blessed to be surrounded by beautiful parks and recreational sites to enjoy for camping and other activities, right across the country. If you are an adventurer or nature lover, and can see yourself visiting several national park areas over a 12 month period, or even just during a single extended camping trip with multiple stops, you should consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass. This pass is the new and improved version of the Golden Eagle Pass which you may have heard of before.
The pass costs $80 and is valid for 12 months from the day of purchase. If you are 16 years of age or older and a US citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible. You'll receive your pass to carry with you, as well as a free hangtag for your vehicle, which will allow you to display the pass so it is visible through the windshield of your vehicle.
A few things that make the pass different - and in most cases even better - than its predecessors (the National Parks Pass and Golden Eagle Passport):
- The pass is valid immediately at the time of purchase, for 12 months from that date forward
- The pass allows up to 3 additional adults in with the pass owner (all in the same vehicle), and they do not need to be related to one another
- The pass has two signature lines, and again, signers do not need to be related
- The pass permits two motorcycles to enter on the one pass
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that a mere $80 for an entire year of unlimited entry is an investment that will pay for itself in no time - even for the moderate camping enthusiast. To give you an idea of your potential savings - the $80 gives you an entire year of unlimited entry (for you, your vehicle and up to 3 additional friends or family) into some of the country's greatest locations and parks (think Yosemite, Grand Teton, Everglades, Grand Canyon and the like). Without a pass, at Yellowstone National Park you would be charged $25 per car per visit, and Sequoia National Park dings you for $20. It's a no brainer!
Senior citizens - you get an even sweeter deal: If you are over 62 years of age, you are eligible for the same pass for only $10 for the entire year! If you or someone you know is disabled, you may be eligible for the Lifetime Access Pass, this pass is FREE - yes, free - and available to any US citizen or permanent resident that has been medically determined to have a permanent disability. For more information on this Lifetime Access Pass, click here. Not only does the Access Pass get you and your vehicle and your passengers (up to four people in total, including the disabled individual) into the park, it also provides additional discounts on some expanded amenity fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launching, guided tours and more.
And if you're not a camping enthusiast yourself and can't see yourself making good use out of a pass, remember that it also makes a great gift that keeps on giving =)
How to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass
Lastly, you can simply purchase your pass in person at any participating federal recreation site and you don't need to plan in advance or apply ahead of time. Simply show up at any federal visitor center or entrance station, purchase your pass and use it immediately.