Travel to national parks is hot right now and entry fees are getting more and more expensive due to upkeep and demand. However, you can save a bunch of money if you get a National Park Pass discount and stack your national park visits. If you are planning on visiting some national parks soon and you don’t want to pay full price, then this post is for you!
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass (also known as the America the Beautiful Pass) is your entrance to over 2,000 US federal recreation sites and National Parks. The National Parks Pass covers entrance, day fees, standard amenity fees, for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle or up to four adults for parks that charge per person fees instead of vehicle fees. If you are visiting on a motorcycle (you wild one you) and you get a National Parks Pass you are also covered.
How to Get A National Park Pass Discount
The standard American the Beautiful National Parks Pass is usually $80.00. However, there are three main ways to get a National Parks Pass discount, and each way results in different savings. Two of them are very age-specific, while the last way is available to anyone at any age and situation.
Every Kid Outdoors
Discount – FREE
Every Kid Outdoors is by far our favorite National Park Pass discount but it is only available to families with a 4th-grade child in the US. If you have a child in 4th grade, or you know that your child is going to be in 4th grade soon, then that is the perfect year to plan a bunch of national park visits for free! Every Kid Outdoors is a government program that gives families of 4th graders a National Park Pass for free. You can find out everything that you need to know and how to get one here – Every Kid Outdoors. It is an awesome program and we can’t recommend it enough!
Annual Senior Pass
If you will be traveling with a grandparent or you yourself are a senior, then getting a Senior Annual Pass is a must! (Better yet, consider the lifetime pass for $80.00) Anyone in the car traveling with the Annual Senior Pass holder is able to get in for free. So, if you are traveling with both Grandma and Grandpa and have two cars, consider having Grandpa & Grandma get their own Senior Annual pass (and pitch in to pay for them as well!). Have Grandma ride in one car, and Grandpa in the other and you will still save bunches on your visits. You can find out all about the Senior Annual Pass and Lifetime Pass here – Annual Senior Pass.
Using L.L. Bean and Rakuten
Discount 2-10% +$30.00 off
One of the easiest ways to get a National Park Pass discount is to buy your National Park Pass through a free shopping portal like Rakuten. Rakuten is the easiest program that you can use at almost all online retailers. When you shop through Rakuten you can either get cash back or Amex Points (You had me at
hello Amex Points!). I love Rakuten because it is easy to use, safe, and provides awesome earning potential for travel rewards and perks. L.L. Bean is a verified National Park Pass retailer and a Rakuten partner. So, if you purchase your National Parks Pass through L.L. Bean by using Rakuten, you can save up to 2-10% (depending on what the cashback offer is at the time). This is super easy to do. Then if you utilize the Rakuten sign-up bonus through the link below, you can get an additional $30.00 back.
Want to get started with reward travel and earning points and miles? Check out How to Travel Hack here!
Purchasing a National Parks Pass with L.L. Bean and Rakuten
- Go to Rakuten and sign up for the program (it’s totally free!)
- Navigate to L.L. Bean through Rakuten’s Portal or visit LL Bean after activating the Rakuten Chrome Extension
- Search for “National Parks Pass” on L.L. Bean
- Purchase the National Parks Pass (preferably with a travel rewards credit card so you can earn even more points)
- Get the cashback into your Rakuten account
- *Also, if you use my link here, or above, you can get $30.00 back free! Meaning your pass will only end up being $50 dollars when you apply the additional Rakuten discount when using this link! Yay!
It’s that easy!
Common Questions About National Park Passes
It’s no secret that the US Government websites can be tricky to navigate and find answers sometimes. So to make these easier we are addressing the most common questions about the National Parks Pass here so you don’t have to sift through pages of information!
Is a National Parks Pass worth it?
In our experience, yes! Here is why many national parks charge an entrance fee and these fees can add up. For example, if you are visiting Moab, Utah and you want to visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and the Natural Bridges National Monument you’ll pay $80.00 just in entrance fees if you are driving a vehicle for that one trip.
With a National Park Pass those entrance fees are covered AND you’ll have another 12 months to visit over 2,000 national parks, national monuments, and Federal Recreation Sites for free. This isn’t even considering that you can get a National Park Pass discount and pay even less. If you are planning on visiting three national parks, monuments, or federal recreational lands in a 12 month period, this pass is well worth the money!
For Example: Using Your National Parks Pass in Moab, Utah
These are the current prices for the Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Natural Bridges National Monument. By purchasing an annual pass you’ll be able to access these parks for just the price of the pass and then access the other 2,000 sites and locations for free for the next 12 months.
- Arches – Price per vehicle $30. Price per person $15.
- Canyonlands – Price per vehicle $30. Price per person $15.
- Natural Bridges – Price per vehicle $20. Price per person $10.
If you will be traveling to Moab soon, check out our Ulitmate Guide to Visiting Moab in the Winter!
How much does a National Park Pass cost?
A standard National Park Pass (also known as American the Beautiful Pass) costs $80.00 plus shipping. However, if you purchase from LL Bean and you utilize their $50.00+ free shipping code then you can get the shipping cost covered!
What does America the Beautiful Pass cover?
The pass covers admission and the standard amenity fees for national forests, parks, grasslands, monuments, wildlife sanctuaries, and lands and sites managed by the National Park Service, BLM, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, National Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. These entry fees are covered for a 12 month period starting from your first month of use.
*Hint – your pass does not activate when you purchase it but rather when you use it! If you purchase your pass in January 2022, but you don’t use it until the beginning of the month in March 2022, it is valid until the end of the month in March 2023. This means, if you time your vacations right, you can have 13 months of entry fees covered until your national parks pass expires.
How do I get free national park passes?
If you have a child in 4th grade, you can qualify for the Every Kid Outdoors program and you and your family can get a free National Park Pass.
Do national park passes go on sale?
Not anymore, it used to be that you could get one on sale at R.E.I. for a while but that promotion stopped several years ago. However, if you use L.L. Bean and Rakuten you can still get a discount!
Does America the Beautiful Pass cover state parks?
The America the Beautiful Pass (aka the National Park Pass) does NOT cover state parks.
Do seniors get into national parks for free?
Seniors do not get into national parks for free, but they are able to qualify and get the Senior Annual Pass for $20.00 or the Lifetime Pass for $80.00.
What are the benefits of a National Park Pass?
National park passes also get you into 2,000 other sites, landmarks, and monuments. They also cover standard amenity fees and day fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle visiting a national park. For parks that just charge per person fees, they will cover 3 other adults traveling with the pass holder. Children 16 and under get free admission to all national parks at all times. However, the per-vehicle cost does not change even if it is a bunch of 16-year-olds visiting together.
Can I use my friend’s National Parks Pass?
If you are traveling in the same car as your friend then yes, you can use their National Park Pass. If you are not traveling via car, then your friend’s National Park Pass can get 3 other adults into the park without a fee.
Does America the Beautiful Pass give camping discounts?
The standard America the Beautiful National Parks Pass does not provide camping discounts. However, the Senior Annual Pass does.
Does the America the Beautiful pass cover national forests?
Yes! The America the Beautiful National Park Pass covers national forests, as well as 2,000 other natural, historic, and cultural sites in the United States.
Determining if a National Park Pass Discount is for You!
If you are planning on visiting several national parks in a 12-13 month period then you should seriously consider using a National Park Pass discount. Look at the costs of the parks you are visiting, and what you will save by purchasing one. Keep in mind that there are a few highly visited national parks that do not require entry fees at all. The last thing you want to do is to buy a National Parks Pass to enter the Great Smoky Mountains only to realize that entry fees to that park aren’t required! Remember travel hacking and finding travel deals is all about SAVING money! So be smart, plan ahead, and get that National Parks Pass discount if you can!
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