The America the Beautiful pass or Interagency Access Pass is an annual pass that gets you free national park admission year-round. While events like National Park Week and other free public lands days are scattered through the year, as an RV boondocker it isn’t always easy to be in the right place at the right time.
The America the Beautiful Pass is an interagency pass, i.e. it works just as well on national forest fee areas as it does on national parks. As the pass website says, you get free admission to national parks and more than 2,000 recreation sites. The pass is priced so that three visits to major national parks will make it worth the cost. (Story continues below.)
Types of America the Beautiful pass:
- Regular: available to anyone
- Senior: a lifetime pass at a much-reduced fee, available to anyone aged 62 and older. Must either be obtained in person or, if ordered online, incurs a separate processing fee.
- Access pass: free to Americans with permanent disabilities
- Volunteer pass: free to volunteers who clock 250 hours of volunteer time in a year.
Where can I use the America the Beautiful pass?
The Interagency Access Pass works on fee areas of five agencies:
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- Bureau of Reclamation
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Where can I get an America the Beautiful Pass?
Pick up a pass at visitor centers, entrance stations or by ordering online (with an extra charge). AARP offers a small discount off the pass. Here is a full list of locations that issue the pass.
The pass covers two “owners.” Whether a site will admit your companions or not depends on the type of admission charged: per-vehicle you are golden; per-person you may not be. Full rules for the Interagency Access Pass are here. Special rules exist for hikers, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
The America the Beautiful pass replaces the Golden Age and Golden Access passes, but those are still honored in the same way. The pass is not just good for free national park admission; boondockers with the Senior pass can get 50 percent off camping in some campgrounds.
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