Why You Should Buy The America The Beautiful Pass: Plus A List Of Parks

If you love nature or hiking, then you’ve probably already heard of the America the Beautiful pass, and if not, how did you even get to this page? There are some absolutely gorgeous places to visit throughout the US, but so few of us actually get out to see it.

Why You Should Buy The America The Beautiful Pass

But if there’s anything that the crisis in 2020 taught us (other than which celebrities are out of touch), it’s that we should absolutely be making the most out of our beautiful country.

Avoiding crowded cities to breathe in crisp, fresh air is the best thing that we can do for our minds, our bodies, and our families.

The biggest deterrence to going to our national parks however is the fee. There are a lot of places that will charge you for the privilege of walking around, and although this might sound insane and inconvenient, there is a very good reason why parks charge an entrance fee.

The money made from visitors goes directly to the upkeep and maintenance of these areas, as well as paying the wages of the rangers and staff that keep you safe and educated.

If you are avid about hiking or getting out to see the beautiful vistas that America has to offer, then there is something that you can do in order to save some money.

America The Beautiful Pass

If you don’t already know, or you want to get a bit more information, the America the Beautiful pass is a pass to USA (see also: 25 Best Places To Visit In February In The USA)national parks that grants you admission to an extensive list of national forests and other parks that are managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and more.

You can gain access to these parks for an entire year with this pass, so you don’t have to worry about entrance fees whilst you’re exploring the scenery for 12 months whilst you have this pass.

There are new things that you need to know before you set off on your adventures, so that’s what we’ll go into now.

How Much Does It Cost?

At the time of writing this, the current cost of an America the Beautiful pass is $80. The pass is valid for 12 months after purchasing, so you could get one now and still be enjoying the national parks through the majority of next year as well.

And before you worry what the price will end up being if you wanted to get your whole family out for the day, listen to this.

The pass will cover up to 4 adults at parks that charge per person. Kids that are under 15 get into the parks for free anyway, so that means that you can get a whole bunch of people in using this pass.

If you go to a park that charges per vehicle, the pass will cover the pass holder and all the other passengers. That said, it only covers personal vehicles like cars and vans – you’re not going to be able to get a bus full of people through.

For example, if you wanted to go to Yellowstone, they charge a vehicle fee of $35 per car for admission. This is just under half the price of the America the Beautiful pass, and is a pretty standard admission fee.

This means that if you plan to go to just two or three national parks over the course of the year, the pass has more than paid for itself.

For The Whole Family

You could very easily split the cost of the pass between a few people and share it, or plan to go to a bunch of national parks together throughout the year.

For example, you and your best friend, maybe you both have partners and children, instead of each forking out a bunch of money any time that you want to go somewhere interesting on a hike, you could split the cost of the pass and have a year of adventuring together with both of your families.

The Incentive

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that hikes, or explores national parks, but you’ve never been able to find the right motivation.

What better way to encourage yourself to get out and journey than to drop $80 on a park pass and make sure that you make the most of it.

Maybe this is just the push that you need.

Travelling Without A Pass

Though there are a few national parks that don’t charge an entrance fee, like The Great Smoky Mountains for one example, the majority of them do.

As I mentioned before, $35 is the typical fare, but let’s run through a few examples to explain why getting an America the Beautiful pass is absolutely worth it.

Yellowstone And Grand Teton National Park


Because of how close these two parks are, a lot of people try to see both during the same trip. Each park charges $35 per vehicle, which is already $70, just $10 lower than the price of the pass.

Zion National Park And Bryce Canyon National Park

Let’s say that after seeing Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, later in the year you wanted to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Again, these two are relatively close to each other, making it worth a trip to see both.

Zion is again $35 per vehicle, as is Bryce Canyon, or $20 per person without a vehicle.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

This park again charges per vehicle. Either $25 per day, or $35 for a week’s trip if you were wanting to go camping.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The Guadalupe Mountains in Texas charge $10 per person to enter the park instead of charging per vehicle.

Having a pass would mean that you could go on these amazing trips for half the price, as well as all the other sites that accept the America the Beautiful pass.

Although the list is extensive as I’ve mentioned, it will always be worth getting in touch with the park if you’re unsure and double-checking that they take the pass before you start organizing any trips.

The Take Away

As you can see, the majority of national parks charge an entrance fee of anywhere between $10 per person to $35 per vehicle for a one day’s trip.

So long as you’re avid about travelling and hiking, then the America the Beautiful pass will have paid for itself after just three trips to national parks across the country. How good is that?

However, if you don’t actually go to a lot of parks, and feel like even having the pass isn’t going to be the incentive that you need to get you out, then you can probably pass on the pass.

Although, even in this case it could be worth splitting the cost with your parents or a friend and sharing the pass between you.

What Does The Pass Cover?

This pass covers all kinds of locations, from parks, to forests. Grasslands to monuments. Wildlife refuges or just lands. Regardless of whether you’re interested in history, nature, hiking, or camping, there is going to be one location that suits you perfectly.

If these lands are then managed or operated by services that protect national parks, forests, fish and wildlife, or are managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, or the Army Corps of Engineers, then it’s probably going to be covered.

Although, as I mentioned, if there’s somewhere specific that you’d like to be able to visit throughout the next year, it’s always going to be a good idea to get in contact with them and check that they accept the America the Beautiful pass.

That said, the pass is accepted in such a large variety of different sites that you’re probably going to be covered.

In order to not run into any surprises that might dampen the fun of getting out and exploring the beauty of our natural landscapes, you can always check with the specific park that you’re going to’s admission policies before you set off.

This means that you wont end up having to pay for someone you weren’t expecting to, though, so long as you’re not travelling with a massive group, you’re likely to be fine.

Do keep in mind, however, that the pass just gets you into the park. After that, you’ll still have to pay for any extra amenities, like RV hookups, parking, campsite rentals or guided tours.

Depending on what you’re going to be doing, you’re probably still going to be spending money at the park, however, at least you’ll have your admission fees covered.

How To Use Your Pass

Once you’ve ordered it, you will receive a cool plastic card in the mail. Once you have it, head over to your national park and show your pass to the ranger in charge of admissions – you will also need your ID so that they can check your identity.

After this, they’ll give the card back, give you a map, then send you on your way. As easy as that.

A few things that you might have picked up on through that is the fact that the pass is a physical actual card with your details on it.

This means that if you’re sharing the pass with someone else, the person whose details are on the card will have to be accompanying you on your trip or you might be barred entry or made to pay.

You also need to make sure that you’ve got your ID. No matter how lightly you’re travelling, always make sure that you have your ID with you when you go hiking or camping in national parks.

Park List

There are over 2,000 parks that are covered by the pass in the US. I haven’t included every single one on this list, just the top 100 most popular ones that actually charge a fee.

So, in case you don’t see your favorite park on here, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t covered, just that I didn’t have space for it on the list:

  1. Acadia National Park
  2. Adams National Historical Park
  3. Antietam National Battlefield
  4. Arches National Park
  5. Assateague Island National Seashore
  6. Badlands National Park
  7. Bandelier National Monument
  8. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  9. Bryce Canyon National Park
  10. Cabrillo National Monument
  11. Canaveral National Seashore
  12. Canyonlands National Park
  13. Cape Cod National Seashore
  14. Capitol Reef National Park
  15. Capulin Volcano National Monument
  16. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  17. Castillo De San Marcos National Monument
  18. Cedar Breaks National Monument
  19. Chaco Culture National Historical Park
  20. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  21. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  22. Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
  23. Christiansted National Historic Site
  24. Colonial National Historical Park
  25. Colorado National Monument
  26. Crater Lake National Park
  27. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  28. Cumberland Island National Seashore
  29. Death Valley National Park
  30. Denali National Park & Preserve
  31. Devils Tower National Monument
  32. Dinosaur National Monument
  33. Dry Tortugas National Park
  34. Everglades National Park
  35. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  36. Fort Davis National Historic Site
  37. Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
  38. Fort Pulaski National Monument
  39. Fort Smith National Historic Site
  40. Fort Sumter National Monument
  41. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
  42. Glacier National Park
  43. Golden Spike National Historic Site
  44. Grand Canyon National Park
  45. Grand Teton National Park
  46. Great Falls (George Washington Memorial Parkway)
  47. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
  48. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  49. Gulf Islands National Seashore
  50. Haleakalā National Park
  51. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
  52. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
  53. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
  54. Hovenweep National Monument
  55. Isle Royale National Park
  56. James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  57. Joshua Tree National Park
  58. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
  59. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  60. Lava Beds National Monument
  61. Lewis & Clark National Historical Park
  62. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
  63. Mesa Verde National Park
  64. Montezuma Castle National Monument
  65. Mount Rainier National Park
  66. Muir Woods National Monument
  67. Natural Bridges National Monument
  68. Olympic National Park
  69. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
  70. Padre Island National Seashore
  71. Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial
  72. Petrified Forest National Park
  73. Pinnacles National Monument
  74. Pipe Spring National Monument
  75. Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
  76. Rocky Mountain National Park
  77. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
  78. Saguaro National Park
  79. Saint Gaudens National Historic Site
  80. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
  81. San Juan National Historic Site
  82. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National parks
  83. Shenandoah National Park
  84. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  85. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
  86. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  87. Thomas Edison National Historical Park
  88. Tonto National Monument
  89. Tumacácori National Monument
  90. Tuzigoot National Monument
  91. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
  92. Vicksburg National Military Park
  93. Walnut Canyon National Monument
  94. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
  95. White Sands National Park
  96. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
  97. Wupatki National Monument
  98. Yellowstone National Park
  99. Yosemite National Park
  100. Zion National Park

How Can I Buy A Pass?

If you’ve been swayed and you’re now looking for ways to buy a pass, then there are three main ways that you have to purchase the national park pass.

The first is online. Go to REI’s Website and order the pass. Quick, painless, and you don’t even have to talk to a single other person.

The pass will arrive in the mail after about a week, and then you’ll be good to go. From this site, you can also get a bunch of hiking must-haves before you go as well, in case you need to stock up.

You can also call and order the pass over the phone. If you struggle figuring stuff out online, or just prefer the security of talking to another person whilst you order something like this, then you can call 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-88-275-8747) in order to purchase your pass. Again, it should arrive in the mail after a few days.

Finally, there are a few federal recreational sites that will allow you to buy an America the Beautiful pass.

So if you’re out and about, exploring somewhere cool and you happen to notice that they’re selling the pass, you would be able to get it sorted there as well. It would still need to be created properly and delivered in the mail.

If you’re buying a 2022/2023 pass, the REI are actually donating 10% of the proceeds from each pass to the National Park foundation.

It’s great to know that even without paying the admission fees, you will still be putting money towards the preservation and upkeep of these beautiful parks and paying their rangers.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a true lover of the great outdoors, and want to find a way to make the most of your surroundings, then there’s nothing better that you could do for yourself than pick up an American the Beautiful pass.

Perhaps you could ask for it as a present, or split the cost with a friend or family member if you’re really wanting to make sure that you make the most of it all.

With over 2,000 covered sites across the US, you’re sure to be able to find plenty of places that will keep you outdoors and exploring, get out and enjoy this gorgeous country when you can – you won’t regret it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Print The Pass?

Nope. The pass is a physical card that will arrive in the mail after a few days. You’ll have to make sure that you keep this pass with you if you’re wanting to get into parks without paying admission.

Can I Use Someone Else’s Pass?

No, as previously mentioned, whoever the pass owner is will have to be the one to actually use the pass. You unfortunately cannot lend your pass out to other people and let them use it without you, that won’t be valid.

What About State Parks?

Unfortunately, state parks are state parks, and national parks are national. They’re two different things, managed by different bodies. This means that the America the Beautiful pass will not cover state parks, you’ll have to have a look at your own state and see if there are any specific discounts or passes that would get you into a state park without paying admission.

Is It Worth It?

Yes, absolutely. If you’re thinking about getting a pass because you like to go out to a lot of parks and hike or camp, then yes, this park is worth it.

If you’re wondering because you’re looking for the right motivation to get out from behind the computer screen and out to explore the world, then yes, it’s worth it!

If you’re really not bothered about nature and don’t think that you’ll even end up using it, then you’re probably best giving it a miss.