One of our goals during our travels is to see every National Park along the way. And one of the best deals for us is the National Park America The Beautiful Annual Pass! We aren’t (quite) old enough to take advantage of the lifetime Senior Pass, but the $80 Annual Pass is still paying off handsomely for us. Most National Parks cost $30 for a 7-day entry these days and that adds up fast when you’re visiting multiple parks.
We just renewed our pass in Yellowstone National Park. Since then, we’ve visited seven more Parks or Monuments: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Mesa Verde National Monument, Bandolier National Monument and Petroglyph National Monument. By my calculation, the Pass has paid for itself 3 times over already, and that’s in less than 2 months!
I’m also participating in the National Park Passport program. We purchased our little blue Passport book during our 2017 trip to Yellowstone and have been using it since we began our RV travels. Basically, every National Park and Monument provides a cancellation stamp – usually at a Passport Station located in the gift shop. Most are simple circular stamps giving the place name and date of visit. But some are creatively, decorative. I always love finding those! The stamps are fun, and they provide a record of our travels through the National Park system. If you don’t have a Passport book, you can still capture the stamp on slips of paper provided at the cancellation station. I’ve even seen folks create their own “passport book” out of a simple note pad, but I like the look and organization of the actual Passport.
You can purchase a Passport book at any National Park gift shop or online. The Passport is organized and color-coded in geographic regions, making the proper cancellation section easier to find. Even the stamp ink is color coded! (They’ve really thought about this!) The book comes with a US map showing all Park locations and there also is an companion mobile app.
Say what you will about our Government’s failings, but I think the National Park system and their visitor engagement programs are absolutely fantastic. It’s a wonderfully positive use of our tax dollars.