The U.S. government has revamped its year-long park pass system, doing away with the old Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and Golden Access passes. The new passes are the result of a cooperative effort between the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or older can purchase a lifetime version of the America the Beautiful pass for $10.The basic pass is called the America the Beautiful—National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (valid for 1 year from date of purchase, $80), which is available to the general public and provides access to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge an entrance or standard amenity fee. Passes can be obtained in person at a park; by calling 888-ASK-USGS (888/275-8747, ext. 1); or online.

Steam rises from a turquoise hotspring in Yellowstone.

Hotspring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo © Galyna Andrushko/123rf.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or older can purchase a lifetime version of the America the Beautiful pass for $10. This pass can only be obtained in person at a park. The Senior Pass provides free access to federal parks and recreational areas, plus a 50 percent discount on some fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. The pass is good for the cardholder plus three adults (children 16 and under are free). The pass is nontransferable and generally does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by park concessionaires.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities are eligible for a free lifetime America the Beautiful Access Pass. Documentation such as a statement from a licensed physician, the Veterans Administration, or Social Security is required to obtain this pass, which can only be obtained in person at a park. Like the Senior Pass, the Access Pass provides free access to federal parks and recreational areas, plus a 50 percent discount on some fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. Free annual passes are also available to members of the U.S. military and their families.

Volunteers who have amassed 250 service hours with one of the participating federal agencies are eligible for a free one-year pass, which is available through their supervisor.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Zion & Bryce.