At a time when affordable recreational opportunities are hard to come by, the more than 400 national parks and monuments across the U.S. continue to offer great adventures at a relatively low cost. With the National Parks Service’s America the Beautiful pass, you gain entrance to any of the nation’s designated parks or monuments and other federally-managed lands as many times as you wish throughout the year.


Featuring such well-known attractions such as Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon, the national parks were dubbed “America’s Best Idea” by Ken Burns in his acclaimed six-part PBS documentary. Whether you choose to take to the nation’s inspiring natural wonders by foot, bike, car or RV, you can chart your own adventures. If you prefer to go with others, sign up for a ranger-guided tour.

At $80 a year, the America the Beautiful pass is not cheap; however, it’s a great value if you make use of it. A multi-day pass is also available at the entrance station to most parks. The annual pass is free for active military members, volunteers, and those who are fully disabled.1 If you are age 62 or older, you can purchase a lifetime pass for only $10. Your pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees for all passengers in your vehicle, or up to four adults at sites that charge per person. Children age 15 and under are free.

If you don’t live near a national park and can’t travel to one, seek out some of the thousands of national monuments, forests, or other lands managed by federal agencies that might be closer to you. The America the Beautiful pass grants you access to all sites managed by the National Park Service as well as the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, plus the Bureaus of Land Management and Reclamation.

If getting out and exploring the nation’s parks and monuments is in your future, give some thought to an America the Beautiful annual (or lifetime) pass to the national parks. For one fee, you can discover new adventures over and over again.

Share your thoughts: What is your favorite national park? Which one(s) do you want to experience?

1For volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.