Annual National Park Pass
With 63 national parks in the National Park Service, an annual national park pass is a great way to explore these American treasures—and save some money.
In 1872, our nation’s first national park—Yellowstone—was born with the stroke of a pen, when the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.1 Today, 150 years later, the National Park Service’s system is made up of an impressive 423 units composed of national parks, national monuments, and nationally protected lands.2 Equally impressive, these units received a total of 237,064,332 visits in 2020.3
According to the National Park Service, the most visited national park of the country’s 63 national parks in 2020 was Great Smoky Mountains, with 12.1 million visits.4
However, with 14.1 million visits in 2020, Blue Ridge Parkway, which is not a national park but is part of the National Park Service, was the most visited place in the system.5
Not surprisingly, with so many people actively visiting lands in the National Park Service’s system, the federal government offers an annual pass. This pass is known as the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.
As of the time of this writing, in 2022, this versatile pass can be purchased for $80, and it provides access to over 2,000 recreation areas nationwide that are managed by five separate federal agencies. The pass is valid for one full year from the month of its purchase, and up to 100 percent of the proceeds from America the Beautiful passes are used to improve visitor recreation services.6
You can purchase an America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass at hundreds of locations nationwide, which can be viewed by clicking or tapping here. You can also purchase an annual pass by calling the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at 888-275-8747 or by visiting USGS’s online store or recreation.gov. Your annual national park pass will be issued immediately if purchased at a site location; however, it could take up to 10 business days to receive your annual pass in the mail if purchased via the phone or online.
Purchasing an America the Beautiful annual national park pass is not the only way to acquire one. The following national park passes are free or discounted if you qualify:
Military Pass: If you are currently serving, or have served, your country in the military, you qualify for a free annual pass. This military pass is available for:
- Current U.S. military members and their dependents, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Space Force, and Reserve and National Guard members
- U.S. military vets
- Gold Star Family members
Access Pass: If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a permanent disability, you qualify for a free lifetime pass. Documentation of your permanent disability and residency are required.
Fourth Grade Pass: Every U.S. fourth-grader—including home-schooled students and free-choice learners who are 10 years old—can get a free American the Beautiful pass valid for the duration of the student’s school year through the following summer (September through August). To get this pass, a fourth-grader need simply first obtain a paper pass at the Every Kid Outdoors website and then exchange it for an America the Beautiful pass at one of the hundreds of onsite locations where passes are sold.
Volunteer Pass: If you’ve volunteered for 250 or more documented service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program, you qualify for a free America the Beautiful annual Volunteer Pass.
Senior Pass: While this pass is not free, it is substantially discounted for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 years old and up. There are two Senior Pass options:
- An Annual Senior Pass for $20
- A Lifetime Senior Pass for $80
The Credit One Bank Wander Card is a Visa® credit card that’s geared toward rewarding adventure on the open road, including visiting our country’s national parks, national monuments, and nationally protected lands. To encourage card members to get out there and explore, Credit One Bank offers new Wander Card members up to an $80 statement credit when they use their Wander Card to purchase an America the Beautiful pass either onsite at one of the hundreds of locations nationwide or online at recreation.gov or usgs.gov (excludes processing fee) within the first year of opening their account.†
In addition to reimbursing you one time for up to $80 of the purchase price of an America the Beautiful annual pass, the Wander Card also offers reward points to encourage you to hit the open road in search of adventure. You can earn 5X points on eligible recreational and amusement park purchases (including national parks and sporting events), 3X points on eligible restaurants and lodging purchases (including campgrounds), and 1X points on all other purchases made with the card.†
If you’re anticipating hitting the road soon and want to be rewarded for your travel, it’s worth seeing if you Pre-Qualify for a Credit One Bank Wander Card. It takes less than a minute and won’t harm your credit score.
No matter how you acquire yours, an America the Beautiful annual pass opens over 2,000 doors to adventure. So, get yours and take full advantage of the greatest national park system in the world—and help support the National Park Service’s mission with the proceeds from your pass.