America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: How I used it in my first year + savings

The America The Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Lands Pass is an interagency annual pass. The pass gets you admission into over 2000 federally managed recreation areas, including the 63 National Parks.

Dry Tortugas National Park

The America the Beautiful pass covers day use or standard entry fees at these locations. Admission can be charged either per car or per person.

  • Per car: the pass covers one standard passenger vehicle  (the passholder must be present in the vehicle)
  • Per person: the pass covers admission for the passholder plus 3 individuals

Additional fees such as boat tours, camping, and rentals are not covered.

The pass is valid for the month you purchased it, plus one year after that. So if you purchase it in April, your pass would be valid through April of the following year.

Zion National Park

Purchasing a Pass

You can purchase the America the Beautiful Pass in two ways: in-person at a park or online.

Online is convenient, but it typically takes 2 weeks to arrive to you in the mail, plus there are about $8 in fees added to the cost.

In-person, the pass costs $80 flat and of course, you get to use it right away. Here is a list of locations where you can purchase the pass.

Bryce Canyon National Park

How I Used My America the Beautiful Pass in One Year

Between March 2023 – March 2024 I visited:

  • Everglades National Park ($30)
  • Big Cypress National Preserve (no fee)
  • Dry Tortugas National Park ($15 pp x2)
  • Congaree National Park (no fee)
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historic Park ($10pp x2)
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument (no fee)
  • Castillo de San Marcos National Monument ($15pp x2)
  • Crystal River National Preserve (saved $5)
  • Zion National Park ($20pp x4)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park ($35)
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area ($30)
  • Grand Canyon National Park ($35)
Fort Matanzas National Monument

Was it Worth It? + My Savings

My total savings for the year was $215 after subtracting the cost of the pass ($80). Maybe $215 for a year is not a hugely significant savings, and making a donation to our National Park Service in the form of a small entrance fee is never a bad thing.

Regardless, I think just knowing I had the pass inspired me to plan more National Park trips than I would have without the pass. For example, even though Congaree National Park has no fees, I honestly do not think I would have had it on my radar if I wasn’t already looking into planning more national park trips. I probably would not have planned to visit Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon National Parks so soon if I wasn’t trying to get one last trip in before my pass expired.

If you’re planning to visit at least three national parks in a year, I’d absolutely recommend getting the pass. It will pay for itself, and it might even inspire you to plan for national park trips and explore the sites in your area.

Grand Canyon National Park

Will I Be Renewing My America the Beautiful Pass?

I won’t be renewing right away, because the next National Park trip I have planned right now is to Virgin Islands National Park, and that does not have any fees. However, I will be visiting two more national parks in the Fall, so I will definitely be renewing my pass then.

My goal is to visit all 63 National Parks and I’m making some progress with 8/63 checked off!

Shark Valley Observation Tower at Everglades National Park

The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit any of the sites mentioned in this post, I recommend checking the most up-to-date information on the respective websites.

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