While many are in a panic about the rate increases into America’s Public Lands, those of us in the know for visiting our federally operated public lands have a trick. Known as the America the Beautiful Pass, this $80 expense is one of the smartest purchase you can make. For the cost of a movie and popcorn for a family of four, you can have unlimited access to the very best outdoor destinations. With our further ado, we share seven reasons why you should purchase this pass ASAP.

Looks like the secret is out! Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons have seen a dramatic increase in the sale of the America the Beautiful passes. Pick up yours today before the Department of Interior decides to raise the price for these passes!

One Fee, One Time, for an Entire Year

While $80 is still a big expense for some families or single adventurers, buying this pass is a no brainer for those who love going out into the splendor of nature. If you are like us, you visit a National Park more than once per year, so you are already spending upwards of $50 on park entry fees before the proposed rate increase. For $30 more for an entire year, you can enter federally operated and managed public lands. I have used my pass so many times this year that I am now entering parks for free. This pass is also a smarter purchase than a year long permit to enter one park, as it covers nearly everywhere you desire to go. The year long permit is valid for 12 months from the month of purchase, not a calendar year. I get one as a present each year for my birthday, while others give it away as a Christmas present or a graduation gift. Once you have the pass, you just show it, with your ID, at a entrance station and you are good to go. No need to carry any cash. Be aware that the pass covers the entrance fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas, or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person. Kids 15 & under get in free.

Access to all Federally Managed Public Lands

The America the Beautiful Pass doesn’t just cover National Parks. It also covers all federal public lands. The pass will give you free entry to all Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation and every single one of the regions under the Department of Interior. According to the NPS main website: A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Discounted Camping Rates

While it appears that this discount is not across the board, many camping areas around the nation will give a 50% discount for coming fees to those with an America the Beautiful pass. I have gotten discounts while camping at Yellowstone with the pass, and just recently got a discount while camping on BLM land outside of Moab, Utah. The campsites that tend to be discounted most often, from my travels, do not apply to campsites that have utility hookups at them. This seems to only be fore tent campers or those not needing any extra amenities while in their campsite. The best way to see if you are eligible for a 50% camping discount with your America the Beautiful pass is to go on to, fill out the reservation information and see if you get your fees cut in half once you enter your permit number.

Can Be Purchased Outside of Parks

Most assume that in order to get an America the Beautiful Pass, you’ll need to visit one of the locations where interagency passes are sold. While that is a great idea, you can also pick them up two other ways. Many visitor centers for towns near National Parks sell the passes, as do outdoor stores like REI. You can even buy them online and have them shipped to your house! While buying one of the passes at REI is probably the most convenient,  considering buying one online through the Federal Government instead. That way, you can be assured that all fees go directly to helping fund our struggling National Parks and public lands.

Can be used Between Two Families. Shhhh. 

Ok, so this is a technicality that the NPS may frown upon, but you can do this if you wish. Each pass covers the people in the vehicle, as long as the signer is in the car. On the back of each America the Beautiful card, there are two spaces for names. If you wish, you could have a member of two separate families sign the area below. Keep in mind that sharing a card will only work if the signer of the card is in the vehicle at the time of entry onto a federally operated public land. I only suggest this if you know someone who loves National Parks, but might not be able to afford entry to them. It is also a cool thing to do to loan one to someone you know who is taking a road trip to numerous parks. Again though, the other person must sign the card in one of the two spots. This might be frowned upon, but it is technically legal, so enjoy the loophole while you can!

Show Your Support For Public Lands

By purchasing your America the Beautiful pass, you will help show your support for pubic lands. Yes, having to pay fees to enter “our lands” might not be ideal, but this pass says you are one of the few who hope to spend more time enjoying our cultural, historical and natural destinations. The fees for these passes goes directly to our public lands, hopefully helping to make them better. The purchase also sends a message to the Department of Interior, letting them know that people want to explore and reconnect with the beauty of our lands. The more of us that buy them, the more serious our voices will be heard when discussing future budgets for public lands.

Make Yourself Go to Public Lands More Often 

Typically, if you buy something, you tend to use it more than once. That is the same with the America the Beautiful Pass from the Department of Interior. If you love visiting National Parks, purchasing the America the Beautiful pass should encourage you to visit more National Parks in a year. Not having to worry about entrance fees allows you to take more spur of the moment trips to your favorite wildlife refuge, National Park or National Forest Service region. Depending on the season, the card pays for itself after just three visits, giving you the feeling of taking advantage of a great deal numerous times a year.


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