The America the Beautiful pass is your golden ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. If you’re a National Park-aholic, an outdoor enthusiast, and/or a road trip lover, you need to get your hands on this pass!
Aside from getting you into all 63 National Parks and 428 NPS sites, the America the Beautiful pass grants you access to the following sites: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service (USFS), and US Army Corps of Engineers.
In this guide, I am going to answer all of your burning questions about the America the Beautiful pass, including what it is, how much it costs, where to buy it, who needs it, the new changes in 2024, and more.
America the Beautiful Pass: What It Is + Why You Need It
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What Is the America the Beautiful Pass? Where Can I Use It?
The America the Beautiful pass is an interagency park pass that covers entrance fees and day-use fees to almost every park and recreation site managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
NOTE: The America the Beautiful Pass only admits you into the park. You will need to pay for other things like camping, tours, permits, etc.
How Much Does the America the Beautiful Pass Cost?
- Standard Annual Pass – $80
- Military Pass – FREE
- Senior Lifetime Pass – $80
- Access Lifetime Pass – FREE
- Volunteer Pass – FREE
- Fourth Grade Pass – FREE
Special Options For the America the Beautiful Pass
Aside from the standard annual America the Beautiful pass, there are five special pass options.
The military pass is free for current US military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, US military veterans, and Gold Star Family members. Check requirements and eligibility here.
The senior lifetime pass is $80 for anyone ages 62 and over. Apply here to buy it online or visit one of the parks in person to purchase.
The access lifetime pass is free for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship. This pass can only be obtained in person at a federal recreation site or through the mail using the application form on this website.
The volunteer pass is free to volunteers with 250 service hours. Contact your park coordinator to receive this pass.
The fourth-grade pass is free to US 4th graders and their families. Find out more details here.
→ READ NEXT: 8 Tips for Visiting the National Parks on a Budget 💰
Where to Buy the America the Beautiful Pass
The best place to purchase the America the Beautiful Pass is REI. The park passes are sold in-store and online. The reason why I buy my park pass every year from REI is because members get free shipping, and I can also pop into my local location and conveniently grab one.
You can also buy the pass from LLBean, another outdoor retailer.
The USGS store is an online store where you can buy your America the Beautiful pass. You will need to pay shipping, though. Allow up to three weeks for your pass to arrive if you buy it from this online store.
Finally, you can purchase an America the Beautiful pass from most National Park locations! Ask for one at the entrance station or visitor center. Click here for a list of places where passes are issued.
FOR YOUR INFO: Annual passes expire the following year at the end of the month you purchased it. EX: If you purchased your pass on January 7, 2024, your pass will expire on January 31, 2025.
How to Use the America the Beautiful Pass
Once you receive your pass, the first thing you should do is sign it. New in 2024, there is now only one signature on the back of every card. Once signed, that is the only person who can use this card; he or she must be present for the pass to be valid.
Simply show your pass, along with your ID, to the ranger at the entrance station.
PRO TIP: If you want to impress the ranger, have your ID and pass ready to go when you pull up to the entrance station, have your ID facing them, and have the back of your pass with the signature line facing them.
If there is no ranger on site, or there isn’t an entrance station but a fee is still required to enter the park, simply display your pass in your vehicle – either hung from the rearview mirror on a hangtag or laid onto the dash.
Can 2 People Use the America the Beautiful Pass?
Two people cannot use one pass. Not anymore. New in 2024, there is now only one signature line per pass. No more sharing with a spouse, sibling, friend, etc. The person who signs the back of the card must be present for the pass to be valid.
There used to be room for two signatures on the back of every America the Beautiful pass. Now, if you previously shared with another person, you’ll each need your own pass in order to travel into the parks separately.
Is the America the Beautiful Pass Per Car or Per Person?
At sites that require per-vehicle charges, one America the Beautiful pass pays for everyone in your car.
At sites requiring per-person charges, this pass covers up to four adults. Children ages 15 and younger get into these destinations for free.
→ READ NEXT: 2024 US National Parks Visitor’s Guide
Is It Worth It to Buy the America the Beautiful Pass?
If you are going to be visiting at least three National Parks in one year, the pass will already pay for itself.
Let’s talk numbers.
Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks each cost $35 to enter. Arches and Canyonlands each cost $30 to enter. Capitol Reef costs $20 to enter. Without an America the Beautiful Pass, your Utah National Parks road trip would cost you $120 in entrance fees. With the America the Beautiful Pass, you’re only paying a one-time fee of $80. And you can keep using the pass throughout the year at any of the other 2,000+ recreation sites scattered throughout the country!
Grand Canyon costs $35 to enter. Saguaro and Petrified Forest each cost $25 to enter. Without an America the Beautiful Pass, your Arizona National Parks road trip would cost you $85 in entrance fees. With the America the Beautiful Pass, you’re only paying a one-time fee of $80. And you can keep on using the pass throughout the year!
See the pattern? National Park lovers NEED this pass! 🙌🏼
Ready to buy your pass so you can start exploring our beautiful public lands? Buy it now!
Discover Your Next Adventure
Which National Park should you visit first? I’ve got some suggestions!
How about a National Parks road trip? I’ve got some trip itineraries all planned out for you!
- Florida National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
- Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
- Washington National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
- Arizona National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
Check out my National Parks landing page for inspiration for your next trip!
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