How to Get Discounts at National and State Parks

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How to Get Discounts at National and State Parks- tips for getting into national and state parks for free or at a very deep discount no matter who you are!

There are so many parks to explore in the US that are run by state and national governments. Most states actually have hundreds to choose from. Depending on what state you are in will determine how you pay to get into these parks. In Montana, we paid an amount on our vehicle registration to get into state parks and individually paid to get into national parks when we went. In Washington, where I live now, I have to buy a Discover Pass to get into the state parks (it’s $30-$35) and pay to get into national parks or pay $10 a day to get into state parks. For us, this can all quickly add up since we love to explore anywhere we can make time to get into. However, over the years I have learned some tricks to save money at National and State parks and I want to share them with you.

How to Get Discounts at National and State Parks

Get a free pass if you are disabled– The National Parks have a lifetime pass called an ‘Access Pass’ for those that are disabled. It is free to get and is good for your lifetime. You can sign up at almost any national park and get your card on the spot or you can get your free access pass by mail. Most states also offer a pass that works for state parks and even offers 50% off or free camping as well. Check with your state’s park page.

Get a discounted lifetime pass if you are a senior citizen– Seniors over age 62 can get a lifetime pass for $10. Many states also offer something similar. Check out this application for a senior access pass.

Get a free pass if you are 10 years old– The national Parks offer a Interagency 4th Grader Pass that allows they and their families to get into the parks for a full year. This is good for any 10 year old including free choice and homeschooled kids.

Get a free pass if you are military– Depending on your state, you may be able to get in for free or at a discount. Check with your state’s site. For National Parks, there is a free Military Pass for active duty members and their families. You can get it at any of the federal recreation sites that issue passes by showing Military ID. The same pass can be obtained for disabled discharged vets.

Check with your state about free camping and day passes if you foster children– My state, Washington, offers free day use and discounted camping passes for those that are fostering children.

Get free passes for volunteering– Many states offer free passes for doing a minimal amount of sping and summer trail maintience and cleanup. In Washington, the Washington Trails Association offers a free Discover Pass if you do a simple 24 hours of work.If you love the outdoors, this can be a great way to get out there and earn something to use for the rest of the season, too! For National Parks, you can get a free pass for 250 hours of volunteer work (lifetime) if you participate in the program.

Go on free entrance days– There are many free entrance days for both state and national parks. For National Parks, the following are the 2017 Free entrance days:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents’ Day
  • April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend


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