The National Parks Access Pass
by Aaron Hastings, NWPVA Treasurer
If you’re reading this article, you or someone you know likely has a permanent physical disability. If this is the case, there’s a little known pass that can provide you with free access to national parks. The Access Pass is available to anyone with a permanent physical disability (does not need to be 100% disability). In addition to free entry, the Access Pass also grants reduced fees for add-on items that are not included with the standard fees, such as camping fees, use of boat launches, cabin rentals, or guided tours.
If the National park charges a “per vehicle” fee, the Access Pass allows free admission not only to the pass owner but also all the passengers in a non-commercial vehicle. If the park charges a per-person fee, free entry is allowed for the pass owner plus three additional adults (children under 16 are always admitted free). If you are traveling with more than four adults and the park charges per-person, four are admitted free and the additional adults will have to pay the entry fee.
The following agencies all honor the Access Pass: The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
For example, a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park would cost $25 per vehicle for an entrance fee. With the Access Pass, you and your passengers get in free.
To get the Access Pass is free and it is a lifetime pass, but there is a $10 fee for processing. You can get the pass in person at select locations or via mail order from USGS. For additional information, please visit: store.usgs.gov/pass/access.html
The application for the Access Pass can be found at: store.usgs.gov/pass/access_pass_application.pdf.
Please be aware, the Access Pass does not reduce fees for State parks, only federal or national parks.
My wife, Jennifer, my service dog, Athena, and I spent a week driving around Utah last summer. We visited and hiked around several national parks including Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park; all free of charge thanks to my Access Pass.
Now get outside this summer and rediscover some of our country’s greatest treasures, our National Parks.