Investing in an annual National Park pass was something that had been floating around in my mind for a couple of years. But it wasn’t until I found myself at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico in 2017 that I finally decided to purchase one.
Entrance fees to national parks typically range from $10 to $35 depending on what monument or park you’re visiting. Bandelier at the time cost $20, while an annual pass cost $80. That meant I’d only need to visit two to three more parks within the year to make it worth the purchase! And I knew if I bought it that I’d make sure I visited more parks.
Bandelier National Monument
The second national park I visited in the year I had to use the pass was Mount Rainier National Park, which had an entrance fee of $25.
After that, the next several months were dry. Life got busy, and I while I had my eye on Joshua Tree National Park and Sequoia National Park, I didn’t get to visit any other national parks in 2017.
But right before my pass expired I was able to milk the $80 I paid. My friend from Germany came to visit and we decided to squeeze take a trip to three national parks in a week – Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park and Death Valley National Park.
Virgin River, Zion National Park
Although there came a point when I wasn’t sure if I was going to visit enough parks with entrance fees that totaled $80, I would have been okay with that to support the National Park Service. The agency has been struggling to make ends meet to carry out repairs and is dealing with a shortage in staff.
If you’ve never been to a national park and have the ability to do so, I strongly encourage you to take some time to experience the wonder and beauty of these public lands. There’s nothing quite like being one with nature in these magical and unique places. If you have been to a national park, then it’s easy to understand why it’s crucial to protect America’s public lands. Studies have shown that there are a multitude of benefits that come with spending time in nature. Some of these include reduced stress, better working memory, as well as better moods and energy.
Whenever I’ve gone to a national park, I’ve always experienced a noticeable improvement in my mood. I really feel like national parks are the happiest places on earth. Simply watching wildlife, or admiring trees, other vegetation, rock formations and mountains, is some of the best therapy I’ve ever had.
No matter what camp you’re in – whether you have or haven’t been to a national park – I hope you’ll consider supporting the National Park Service by purchasing an annual National Park pass. In any case, it’s a win-win: if you don’t get to see enough parks, the money you spend supports the National Park Service. And you do get to see three or four parks with entrance fees that exceed a total of $80, then you got yourself a good deal.
For more information about National Park entrance fees, click here. To learn more about issues facing America’s National Parks, visit the National Parks Conservation Association website here. More information about how to purchase an annual National Park pass can be found here. You can also buy a pass online from the USGS Store here.