- What does the America the Beautiful Pass include?
- How much does the America the Beautiful Pass cost in 2023?
- What does an annual National Park pass NOT include?
- What else should I know about the 2023 America the Beautiful Pass?
The U.S. National Parks are some of the most beautiful places in the world. No matter where you’re from, or whether you’ve been to any, you have seen the amazing images of unreal scenery in some of these parks.
In 2021, 297 million people visited national parks!
In the last couple years, our family has started a mission to check off as many of the National Parks as we can.
National Park entry usually comes with a fee. So the best way to check off the parks is with an annual National Park pass, also known as the America the Beautiful pass.
But if you aren’t planning on visiting a bunch of National Parks this year, is an America the Beautiful Pass for 2023 going to be worth it? Read on.
What does the America the Beautiful Pass include?
Where can I use the America the Beautiful Pass?
In 2023, there are currently 423 National Park sites in the United States, covering over 84 million acres, and into every U.S. state, plus sites in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. 63 of them have National Park in their name (the parks that most people think of when they hear “National Park”).
The America the Beautiful pass is good for each one of these sites. But it gets even better! The annual pass is also good for USDA Forest Service sites as well as Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Reclamation.
There are over 2000 federal recreation sites that the pass is good for! So even if you aren’t planning a big National Park trip this year, it can still be worth checking in to!
How many people does the America the Beautiful Pass cover?
If you purchase a 2023 America the Beautiful pass, it is good for the pass owner and all passengers (up to 15 people) in a non-commercial vehicle at pay-per-vehicle areas. For areas that are pay-per-person, the pass will be good for the pass owner + up to 3 more adults. Age 15 and under are always free.
Most official National Parks charge per vehicle, but 4 of them that charge per person are Denali National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Guadalupe Mountains, and Isle Royale.
One of the cool things about the pass is that you can list another owner of the pass, and they do not have to be related to you. Whichever owner is using the pass just needs to make sure to have their ID on them!
If your family is traveling in two separate vehicles, only the vehicle with the pass gets to use it. The second vehicle is subject to the fee.
For all you motorcycle riders, the pass will cover 2 motorcycles if there is a pass owner on each one, and they arrive together with IDs. It also covers any passenger on the motorcycle with the owner.
How long is the National Park Pass good for?
This seems like an obvious one, an annual pass is good for one year. However, it’s not exactly a calendar year.
The pass is good for one full year from the month of purchase, through the last day of that month.
So, if you purchase an America the Beautiful Pass anytime in January 2023, it will expire January 31, 2024, regardless of what date in January you bought it.
How much does the America the Beautiful Pass cost in 2023?
An America the Beautiful Pass 2023 is $80. But before purchasing, check these criteria for more savings:
U.S. Military: FREE pass with current military ID
Veterans & Gold Star Families: As of 2020, with proof of eligibility, Veterans and Gold Star Families are included in the FREE Military Pass.
Senior Citizens (age 62+): $20 for annual pass, or $80 for LIFETIME PASS
Disabled Citizens: FREE for citizens medically determined to have a permanent disability.
National Parks Volunteer: FREE for anyone who completes 250 volunteer hours with any organization participating in the Interagency Pass Program.
In addition to these, if you have a child in 4th grade, you can get a FREE America the Beautiful Pass under the “Every Kid Outdoors” initiative. You will need to complete an adventure diary and print your pass. It will be good for the child and their family!
*Pass is valid from September through August of the year that the student is in the 4th grade
What does an annual National Park pass NOT include?
The America the Beautiful pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day-use fees.
It does not cover camping, special permits, or tours. However, sometimes tours/activities can be discounted with the pass.
For example, we went to the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and although entrance is free here regardless of a pass, the tour to the top of the arch is usually $19/adult, but with the National Park pass, it is discounted to $16/adult.
The America the Beautiful pass is non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen!
It also cannot be used if you left it at home, and refunds will also not be given in this situation. There is no digital version of the pass, and you cannot present a proof of receipt. You must have the physical card present with your ID!
What else should I know about the 2023 America the Beautiful Pass?
You need to weigh the options on whether or not a pass is good for your family. Many of the National Parks have a $35 entrance fee, which would mean you need to visit 3 of them to make the cost worth it.
However, don’t forget the fees at other recreation sites you regularly visit. For instance, we visit Rend Lake multiple times per year, and the day-use fee is $5/vehicle, but is free with the America the Beautiful Pass, because it’s included in the 2000+ recreation sites that the pass covers.
Also, some National Parks are free always. The super popular Smoky Mountain National Park is free all day, every day.
In addition to that, there are specific dates that National Parks have free entrance days.
2023 National Park Free Entrance Days
- January 16, 2023 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 22, 2023 – First day of National Park Week
- August 4, 2023 – Great American Outdoors Day
- September 23, 2023 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11, 2023 – Veteran’s Day
Where to buy the America the Beautiful Pass 2023
The annual National Park pass can be ordered online as well as purchased in person at federal recreation sites. (Call ahead for availability).
If you’re getting one of the military, senior citizen, or disability passes, you must get them in person. Passes are available at most National Park entry stations.
Free National Park passes for 4th graders can be obtained here.
So… are you planning a visit to a National Park this year?
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- Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes with Kids
- Yellowstone National Park in One Day
- Grand Teton’s Hidden Falls Hike with Kids
- 13 Things You Need in Your RV (That You Didn’t Think of!)
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