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Frequently Asked Questions - Recreational Passes

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Overview

  • The passes are valid at more than 2,000 Federal recreation sites where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee(s) (Day use fees) are charged by the following agencies:

    • Not all Federal recreation sites charge entrance fees.
    • Not all Federal recreation agencies participate in the program. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority site does not issue the passes, yet they might honor the Senior and Access Passes for camping discounts. (Inquire locally).
    • Some facilities and activities on Federal recreation lands are managed by private concessionaires. The concessionaires charge for their services as any private company does.
  • At Federal recreation sites that don't have entrance stations you need to display your pass or show proof of pass ownership to compliance officers via one of the two following methods:

    HANGTAGS
    A pass can either be displayed on your rearview mirror using a free hangtag or on your dashboard with the signature side showing. Remember, the hangtag itself is only a way to display your Pass, and is not valid for entry unless it holds a valid Pass.

    DECALS
    If you own an open-topped vehicle (jeep, motorcycle, etc.) you may obtain a free decal to attach to your vehicle that will serve as proof of payment at sites that don't have a staffed entrance station.

    • Decals are issued on annual basis, even for owners of lifetime Senior/Access passes
    • Decals are NOT valid for entry at staffed entrance sites - you MUST show your pass
    • Decals must be obtained in person and you must show the following: your Pass, driver's license and vehicle registration. The name on all three documents must match.
    • All sites that issue passes issue free hangtags
  • Most sites now accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have cash with you as backup.

  • Since the pass program is managed by six Federal agencies that operate under different regulations and charge different types of fees, it can be confusing to sort out fees, terminology, and to distinguish between a "Federally-managed facility/activity" versus a "concession-managed facility/activity".

    Please see the Definitions section for further details, but more importantly, please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.

  • A suite of annual and lifetime passes that provides U.S. citizens and visitors an affordable and convenient way to access Federal recreation lands. Up to 100% of the Pass program's proceeds are used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services.

    • Annual Pass ($80.00 - anyone 16 years and older can purchase)
    • Senior Pass ($10.00 - valid for the lifetime of the pass owner; must be 62+ older, U.S. citizen, and a permanent resident)
    • Access Pass (Free for lifetime with documentation of permanent disability, U.S. citizens and permanent residents)
    • Volunteer Pass (earned with 250+ hours of volunteer service in public lands)
    • Hangtags (used as way to display passes at areas without entrance booth staff)
    • Annual Decals (for open-top vehicles to display at areas without entrance booth staff).
  • The passes provide entrance or access to more than 2,000 Federal recreation sites.

    The Senior and Access Passes may also provide the pass owner a discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees such as camping. (Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees).

     

Senior Pass

Overview of the Senior Pass

  • You can buy a Senior Pass in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office. See Site Locations that issue the Senior Pass.
    You can buy a Senior Pass using the USGS online store. Applicants must upload proof of residency and age. This may be done by photographing your document and uploading it to the order. You will need to provide a credit card payment of $20.00 ($10.00 fee for the Senior Pass, and an additional $10.00 document processing fee). Once the documentation is verified and payment is received, a pass, with the pass owner’s name pre-printed on it, will be issued to the applicant. If you cannot order a Senior pass online, you can submit a Paper Application by mail to the USGS using the paper application and enclosing the same documents and $20 fee

    Online Senior Pass applications are processed and shipped within 6-8 weeks from the day they arrive at USGS. Transit time varies, and is dependent upon the service selected:

        • USPS - typically 5-10 business days
        • FedEx Ground - typically 3-5 business days
        • FedEx 2nd day - typically 2 business days
        • FedEx Overnight - typically 1 business day

    If you need your pass within 15 days or less,  it is recommended that you either obtain your pass at the first site you visit, or request expedited shipping services for your order.

  • A $10.00 lifetime pass that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services.

    At many sites the Senior Pass provides the pass owner a 

  • See Senior Pass Benefits section.

  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 years or older. (You must have turned 62 before you can buy the pass).

    NOTE: Owning property or paying taxes in the U.S. does not automatically qualify you for a Senior Pass. You must be a permanent U.S. resident, or a U.S. citizen with identification such as U.S. Driver's License, Green Card or U.S. Passport.

  • Yes, Golden Age Passports are valid for a lifetime.

  • No. The Senior Pass is not transferable.

  • Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.

    The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USACE, and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Senior Pass at sites where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee(s) (Day use fees) are charged.

    In addition, the Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Senior Pass for entrance or camping discounts.

Senior Pass Benefits

Senior Pass Use

Annual Pass

Overview of the Annual Pass

  • An $80.00 Annual Pass that provides access to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services.

  • Anyone 16 years or older may purchase the pass; children under 16 are always admitted free. Each Annual Pass can have up to two "owners".

  • PLEASE be sure to call a site and verify they are still issuing the passes BEFORE you make a special trip to obtain a pass.

    • Passes may be obtained at hundreds of locations throughout the country, including many Federal recreation sites where they are accepted. See Site Locations that issue the Annual Pass.
    • Annual Passes may also be obtained through USGS (888-275-8747, option 3), or http://store.usgs.gov/pass
    • Passes ordered from USGS ship within 1-3 business days. Transit time varies, and is dependent upon the service selected:

          • USPS - typically 5-10 business days
          • FedEx Ground - typically 3-5 business days
          • FedEx 2nd day - typically 2 business days
          • FedEx Overnight - typically 1 business day

      If you need your pass within 10 days or less, it is recommended that you either purchase your pass at the first site you visit, or request expedited shipping services for your order.

  • Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.

    The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Army Corp of Engineers honor the Annual Pass at sites where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee(s) (Day use fees) are charged.

Annual Pass Use

Annual Pass Internet Order Questions

Annual Pass - Further Information

Access Pass

Overview of the Access Pass

  • You can obtain an Access Pass in person, with proper documentation, from a participating Federal recreation site or office. See Site Locations that issue the Access Pass.

    Access Passes may be obtained via mail order from USGS. Mail-order applicants for the Access Pass must submit a completed paper application, proof of residency and documentation of permanent disability (does not have to be a 100% disability), and pay the document processing fee of $10 to obtain a pass through the mail. Once the application package is received, the documentation will be verified and a pass, with the pass owner's name pre-printed on it, will be issued to the applicant.

    Access Pass applications are usually processed and shipped within 3-5 business days from the day they arrive at USGS. Transit time varies, and is dependent upon the service selected:

        • USPS - typically 5-10 business days
        • FedEx Ground - typically 3-5 business days
        • FedEx 2nd day - typically 2 business days
        • FedEx Overnight - typically 1 business day

  • A free, lifetime pass - available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability (does not have to be a 100% disability) that provides admittance to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies.

    At many sites the Access Pass provides the pass owner a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours).

    See Access Pass Benefits section.

  • The Access Pass may be issued to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of any age that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability (does not have to be a 100% disability) that severely limits one or more major life activities.

    permanent disability is a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

  • The disability requirements for the Access Pass are not based on percentage of disability. To qualify for the Pass the disability must be permanent and limit one or more major life activities.

  • Some examples of acceptable documentation include:

    • Statement by a licensed physician;
    • Document issued by Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income;
    • Document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

    Some examples of documentation that is accepted and not accepted:

     

    Example:

     SSDI Notice of Award Letter

    ACCEPTED

    Notice of Award (SSDI)



     

    Example:

     VA Summary of Benefits

    ACCEPTED

    Summary of Benefits (VA)



     

    Example:

     VA Award letter

    ACCEPTED

    Award Letter (VA)

    ** Letter must denominate any disability percentage **

    Example:

     SSI Notice of Benefit Increase Letter

    NOT ACCEPTED

    Notice of Benefit Increase (SSDI)



     

    Example:

     Handicap Placard/Application

    NOT ACCEPTED

    Handicap Placard/Application



     

     

  • Golden Age Passports are valid for a lifetime however, if they physically wear out you will need to obtain a replacement Access Pass with proper identification.

  • Yes. There is not an age requirement for this pass.

  • Please contact a site directly if you have a question about pass acceptance and fees.

    The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USACE, and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Access Pass at sites where Entrance or Standard Amenity Fees (Day use fees) are charged.

    In addition, the Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Access Pass for entrance or camping discounts.

Access Pass Use

Access Pass Benefits

US Military

Overview of the Annual Pass for Current US Military and Their Dependents

    • Free
    • Available to Current US military members and the dependents of deployed military in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as most members of the Current US Reserves and National Guard. Proper military ID is required (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173).
    • Obtained in person at Federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees.
    • Covers entrance to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge Entrance Fees, and Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites.
    • Admits the pass owners and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults at sites that charge per person.
    • Non-transferable

Pass Use

4th Grade Pass

Overview of the Every Kid in a Park Annual 4th Grade Pass

    • Free
    • Available to U.S. 4th Graders (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age). Educators can also be involved! Learn more at the Every Kid in a Park website.
    • The pass is valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year through the following summer (September - August).
    • Must have a paper voucher printed from the Every Kid in a Park website to obtain the Annual 4th Grade Pass. Digital versions of the voucher (such as smart phones or tablets) will not be accepted.
    • Covers entrance to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge Entrance Fees, and Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers sites.
    • Admits the pass owner and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle at a per vehicle fee area, or the pass owner and up to 3 adults at sites that charge per person.
    • Non-transferable

Pass Use

Volunteer Pass

Overview of the Volunteer Pass

Volunteer Pass Use

  • The Volunteer Pass is valid for 12 months from the month of issuanceexpiring the last day of that month.

  • Each Annual Pass admits pass owner/s and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas; and pass owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free).
    Note: Photo identification will be requested to verify pass ownership.

    • One pass covers the vehicle at sites that charge "per vehicle".
    • At "per person" sites, the applicable fee will be charged for each additional person.
  • No. Only the vehicle with the pass owner is covered. The second vehicle is subject to an entrance fee, or must have (or buy) a second pass.

  • A Volunteer Pass permits entrance for one motorcycle.

  • The Volunteer Pass does not cover Expanded Amenity fees such as camping, boat launching, parking, special tours, special permits or ferries.

    Also, some facilities and activities on Federal recreation lands (including those mentioned above) are managed by private concessionaires. The concessionaires charge for their services as any private company does and the Pass is not valid for their services.

  • At Federal recreation sites that don't have entrance stations you need to display your pass or show proof of pass ownership to compliance officers via one of the two following methods:

    HANGTAGS
    A pass can either be displayed on your rearview mirror using a free hangtag or on your dashboard with the signature side showing. Remember, the hangtag itself is only a way to display your Pass, and is not valid for entry unless it holds a valid Pass.

    DECALS
    If you own an open-topped vehicle (jeep, motorcycle, etc.) you may obtain a free decal to attach to your vehicle that will serve as proof of payment at sites that don't have a staffed entrance station.

    • Decals are issued on annual basis, even for owners of lifetime Senior/Access passes
    • Decals are NOT valid for entry at staffed entrance sites - you MUST show your pass
    • Decals must be obtained in person and you must show the following: your Pass, driver's license and vehicle registration. The name on all three documents must match.
    • All sites that issue passes issue free hangtags

     

Volunteer Pass - Further Information

Eligibility for a Volunteer Pass

Definitions

Overview

  • Concessionaire / Concessioner: An individual or a private company that is under permit or contract to operate a business on Federal land (i.e., campground, parking lot, ice cream stand, boat launch).

    Domicile: A person may have more than one house or live in multiple locations, but has only one domicile. A domicile is a permanent residence - the place where a person returns to even though s/he may temporarily reside elsewhere.

    Entrance Fee: Fee charged to access lands managed by National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Standard Amenity Fee: Fee charged for use of Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, and Reclamation sites that have a combination of basic amenities - picnic tables, trash receptacles, toilets, developed parking, interpretive signing, and security.

    Expanded Amenity Fee: Fee charged for "the extras" that aren't basic entrance or standard amenity fees. Examples include: camp grounds, boat launches, and guided tours.

    Special Recreation Permit Fee: Fee charged for special facilities and services such as rock climbing permits, commercial and vending use, off-road vehicle use, competitive and special events, organized group activities, and individual or group use of special areas.

    Non-Commercial Vehicle: Passenger car, van, pick-up truck, converted school bus, recreational vehicle, etc., used to enter a Federal recreation site for non-commercial purposes.

    Validation: Pass expiration date punched and pass signed by pass owner(s).

    Pass Owner: Person or two person(s) whose signatures are on the back of the Pass.