National Parks Pass Is Summer Bargain

Money Matters March 13Tired of the winter snow, icy streets and overall horrible weather?  Do not worry, spring is just around here and with the flowers comes Spring Break!

If you are planning to travel, why not visit some of the national parks?  The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass can form the basis for numerous trips and adventures this summer, and it’s a bargain at $80.

Not all of the national parks are natural wonders. Some sites are museums, islands, vintage buildings, lighthouses, canals, forts, homes of former presidents, national battlefields, historical parks, monuments, recreation areas, scenic rivers, preserves, wildlife refuges and memorials. Activities at national parks can include but aren’t limited to camping, hiking, fishing, climbing, diving, boating, skiing, swimming and photography.

What your pass covers: One year of entrance for each passenger in your non-commercial vehicle, to include the pass owner and three adults age 16 and older (kids are free). You’ll need a photo ID. Note: Some sites charge per vehicle, and some per person. Ask in advance.

If you’re military, get your free pass by showing your military ID at most parks that charge a fee. Best bet: Get your free pass in advance.

If you’re a senior, get your lifetime pass at a park site that issues them. It will cost you $10.

No trip will be complete without a copy of “Passport to Your National Parks.” The 104-page books are loaded with information: color-coded maps, pre-visit information, illustrations and photographs, free map and guide to the park system. At each spot you visit, stamp your book to record your visit at the cancellation station. Not all parks have this, but most do.

Each book is $8.95, but spring for the annual commemorative stamp sheet for $3.95 to add to your pages. Each year has different stamps to promote a different park in each region. If you have kids, consider adding the “Kids’ Passport to Your National Parks Companion” for $5.95. Each one contains a field journal, list of Junior Ranger programs and checklists to go along with the Passport book. Order at

Google “national parks passport” and click Images to see photos of Passport pages.

Learn about the National Park Service at For specific questions about what the pass covers for each park, call 1-888-275-8747, option 3.

This year, the fee-free dates are April 18-19 (opening weekend of National Park Week), Aug. 25 (National Park Service Birthday) and Sept. 26 (National Public Lands Day).

(c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.

 by David Uffington