Our National Parks
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Here in Northeast Ohio, we are lucky enough to have a national park available to us free of charge. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of the great national parks that does not have an admission fee. Now take a minute and think, what if I had to pay an admission fee every time I wanted to hike the Ledges Trail or every time I visit the roaring Brandywine Falls after a heavy rain? Some of our country’s national parks require an admission fee and not everyone is as lucky as we are. Below are a few great ways to save money while visiting our National Parks.
America the Beautiful Pass
Through the America the Beautiful Pass program, national park visitors can save on admission to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass is available for $80 which covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in the vehicle. This pass is valid for one year. With entrance fees around $35 per vehicle, the America the Beautiful Pass can be a huge saving for families planning a vacation out west where you plan to visit multiple parks in one trip.
Pro tip! The America the Beautiful Pass can be obtained, free of charge, to current US military members and their dependents by showing a Common Access Card or Military ID!
Every Kid in a Park Program
The National Park Service has created a wonderful program that allows current 4th-grade students and their families access to free admission into our national parks that normally charge an admission fee. Here’s how to get the annual 4th-grade pass. Paper passes can be obtained by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website. The next step is to plan your trip! Once you arrive at a federal recreation site that charges an entrance fee or standard amenity fee, you can exchange your paper pass for the annual 4th Grade Pass card. Be sure to visit the Every Kid in a Park website before you leave for vacation this summer!
Pro Tip! This pass is only good for the duration of a child’s 4th-grade school term including the summer following. Be sure to get it at the beginning of the school year!
Fourth Grade Educators
This program goes hand in hand with the Every Kid in a Park program. Without our educators, our 4th-grade students wouldn’t receive the education they need to truly appreciate the natural wonders of our national parks! As a 4th grade educator, you can help our 4th graders learn about how they can protect our national parks, as well as print paper, passes that can be redeemed for the annual 4th-grade pass! Visit the educator section of the Every Kid in a Park website to learn more. You can also access the activity guides below which cover the following topics:
- Exploring Federal Lands and Waters
- Environmental Stewardship
- Our Nation’s Native Peoples
- Citizen Science
An America the Beautiful Pass is available to U.S. senior citizens age 62 and older. They are available online in two tiers, a $20 annual pass or an $80-lifetime pass. For those of you retirees that love to travel, this is an excellent savings for those extended road trips! Not up to speed on those new-fangled computers? Use this link to print the Senior Pass application and send it in via snail mail.
Pro Tip! All applications submitted online or by mail require an additional $10 processing fee. Good to know though, if you apply in person at any of the federal recreation sites that charge an entrance fee, the processing fee is waived!
Don’t let a disability discourage you from enjoying the beauty of our national parks. The National Parks Service offers an Access Pass for those with permanent disabilities FREE of charge! Click here to learn more.
Get out and Volunteer
Through the America the Beautiful Pass program, you can obtain a free annual pass just for volunteering! For many, our national parks have inspired us, created memorable experiences and brought families closer together. It’s time to give back! Volunteer at least 250 hours of service to any federal agency that participates in the Interagency Pass Program and your pass is free! To learn how to get involved, click here.
Free Admission Days
Plan your trip accordingly, throughout the year the National Park Service offers various days where the admission costs are waived. Though some of these dates have come and gone, the remaining free admission days are:
- September 22nd: National Public Lands Day
- November 11th: Veterans Day
Ready for your Pass?
Let Appalachian Outfitters get you geared up for your next adventure. Need recommendations on which national parks to visit? We’ve got you covered. Grab one of our many National Geographic maps, a pair of trekking poles and get outside! Here is a list of federal recreation areas where passes are issued. You can also purchase passes online through the USGC online store.
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