Nice post. But there is a big advantage to buy an all access annual pass for national parks that is not called out here. In many national parks (including Yosemite), you get 50% discount on campsite reservation fees. e.g. I will be paying only 20$ for 2 nights this summer in Yosemite vs. 40$ regular for 2 nights. Not a big amount to save but hey! my point is that the pass more than pays for itself. And not everyone loves to spend a night in a campground and more than that not everyone is lucky to get campsites reservation.
Do you love national parks but hate the idea of paying expensive fees to gain entrance into them? Does your vacation itinerary involve multiple states and camping sites? If you answered “Yes!” to these questions, the America the Beautiful Annual National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass may be the right option for you.
For just $80 a year, you and three (3) accompanying adults age 16 and older have access to over 2,000 Federal recreation sites where an entrance or standard amenity fee is charged by the following agencies: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) http://www.blm.gov, Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) http://www.usbr.gov, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) http://www.fws.gov, USDA Forest Service (USDA FS) http://www.fs.fed.us, and the National Park Service (NPS) http://www.nps.gov. Children under the age of 15 remain free.
The pass is valid for one full year from the month of purchase through the last day of that month which gives you 365 days to explore some of the most beautiful sights imaginable in the United States. Imagine going to bed under a sky full of stars as the sound of the campfire lulls you and your family to sleep.
Seniors, 62 years and older, can purchase a lifetime pass for $10. Permanently disabled men and women are given a lifetime pass for free. Volunteers that complete 500 or more hours at one or more recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies receive a complimentary pass as a “Thank You!” gift for their commitment and service.
If you are a nature lover, there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy the annual pass. Not only will it save you money throughout the year, it gives you an excuse to explore the great outdoors in every capacity imaginable. Go hiking, camping, canoeing, and fishing. Pack up your car and introduce your children to the wild for the very first time. Your options are endless with the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. It’s up to you to explore the parks and recreation areas of your choice this year.
Although there are numerous benefits to being a passholder, there are, however, some stipulations involved. First of all, you must produce identification showing that you are the owner of the pass. That means you can’t pass it onto a family member or a friend. Second, passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and non-replaceable. Last but not least, recreation fees vary. It may be in your best interest to find out what is covered and not covered by your America the Beautiful Annual Pass before setting forth to your destination. You can call 1-888-ASK-USGS and press 1. (888-275-8747, option 1), or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
Visit http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html to purchase your pass. It’s well worth its price because it gives you the opportunity to make lifelong memories throughout the year. Not only that, those costly entrance fees add up. Frugal people find new ways to stretch their dollars. In terms of entertainment, few other deals outshine this one.
One last note, but even if you don’t think you’ll be able to check out national parks this year you should look to your state. There are state parks and recreation areas throughout the country and most states have a similar deal to to the federal pass where for just a low annual price you can get unlimited access to any of the state parks. I know here in Michigan I pay just $10 to get an annual vehicle passport that will get you into any of the 98 state parks. What a deal.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.