Changes To The Senior Pass
On , the price of the America the Beautiful The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass increased for the first time since 1994. The additional revenue will be used to enhance the visitor experience in parks. Learn more about the changes, what they mean for you, and how the additional funds will be used.
Why did the price of the Senior Pass increase?The price of the America the Beautiful The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass increased as result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the US Congress onDecember 16, 2016.
When was the last time the price increased for the Senior Pass? The Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994.
How much did it increase?The lifetime Senior Pass increased from $10 to $80.
Why $80?The legislation states that the cost of the lifetime Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the annual America the Beautiful The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80.
What if a senior citizen is on a fixed budget?The legislation also establishes an annual Senior Pass for $20. That pass is valid for one year from the date of issuance. Four annual Senior Passes purchased in prior years can be traded in for a lifetime pass. Additionally, access to the majority of National Park Service sites remains freeonly 108 of more than 400 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.
What if I have a current Senior Pass?The current passes are lifetime passes and will remain valid.
How To Use A National Parks Pass For California
In addition to the state park passes, you can also use National Parks passes at selected sites.
California boasts eight national parks, including the popular Yosemite, Death Valley and Joshua Tree parks. We also have an additional 25 national park sites. Not to mention the 19 million acres of publicly managed forest and most of it is under the jurisdiction of the the National Forest Service.
You can use your national parks annual pass to get into all of those national parks, the forests that charge day use fees, and even score discounts for camping spots on federal land. The annual pass costs $80, but there are discounted options for seniors, veterans and the disabled.
If you live in Southern California you could skip the national parks pass and get the Forest Service Adventure Pass for $30. It covers day use fees for the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino forests.
Bytheway, both the Angeles and San Bernardino forests as well as a pile of other state and national parks are featured in our list of eyepopping scenic California drives.
Benefits Of The Lifetime Senior Pass
The lifetime pass will provide many benefits that will save seniors money while visiting the national parks of their choice. Here are some examples of these benefits.
- Discount on Expanded Amenity Fees, such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours.
- Discounts on campsites that are physically being used by the pass owner.
- Guided Tours: pass offers discounts on some guided tours. Only the pass owner may receive a discount if one is offered.
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How Do I Show My Pass At A Site That Doesnt Have An Entrance Station
At Federal recreation sites that donât 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:
HANGTAGSA 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.
If you own an open-topped vehicle you may obtain a free decal to attach to your vehicle that will serve as proof of payment at sites that donât have a staffed entrance station.
- your Pass, driverâs license and vehicle registration. The name on all three documents must match.
- All sites that issue passes issue free hangtags
Park Passes Available At The Library
California is home to 280 state park units,over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of trails. These state parks are for everyone. However, many Californians do not access these majestic locations due to barriers both financial and systemic. California State Parks and the California State Library are happy to announce an opportunity to advance safe and equitable outdoor access to all.
Thanks to this partnership between California State Parks and the California State Library, the San José Public Library has joined other public libraries across the state to offer free State Parks vehicle-day use passes.
Check out a pass at any with your library card.
Note: Quantities are limited. Available on a first-come first-served basis.
Check out your next classic CA State Park
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Golden Bear Pass $5 Per Calendar Year
Do you qualify for a Golden Bear Pass?! This pass is just $5 per calendar year and must be renewed each year. The pass entitles you and your spouse to visit California State Parks without paying a vehicle day use fee. The pass completely covers one passenger vehicle with a capacity of nine people or less!
You qualify for the Golden Bear Pass if you meet one of the following requirements:
- You receive Supplemental Security Income
- You are receiving aid from the CalWORKS Program.
- You are age 62+ and have a limited income. If single, your average gross monthly income must not exceed $952. If married , your combined average gross monthly income must not exceed $1,751. If your income exceeds these thresholds, you can still obtain the Limited Use Golden Bear Pass.
This only works at parks with vehicle day use fees, not those that have per-person entry or tour fees. It also does NOT cover boat use, camping, group use, special events, commercial use, extra vehicles or supplemental fees.
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South Dakota State Parks
Annual Park Entrance Licenses are available for unlimited entry to South Dakota state parks. Entrance licenses can be purchased at local state park offices, by calling the South Dakota Division of Parks and Recreation, or online.
Tennessee does charge access fees to state parks but some parks may charge for certain activities.
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Discounted & Free Ca State Parks Passes
There are a handful of discounts and free passes available for Veterans, the disabled, low-income households, seniors, school kids and library card holders.
The Adventure Pass
- Best for: 4th graders joined by up to three adults and kids. It includes free entry into 19 parks like: Anza-Borrego, Empire Mine State Historic Park, Calavaras Big Trees, Hendy Woods. Learn more about the pass here.
- Format: Printed pass or scan for your phone.
The California State Libraries Parks Pass
- Best for: Anyone holding a CA library card who can plan ahead to go to the library to borrow the State Parks vehicle day pass. More info here.
- Format: Hang tag
Distinguished Veteran Lifetime Pass
- Best for: Honorably discharged Veterans with a 50% or greater service disability, former POWs and Medal of Honor recipients. Here is the criteria and info on how to apply.
- Format: Wallet card
General Senior Citizen Discounts
Anyone 62+ can get a $1.00 discount on day use and a $2.00 discount on campsites. But you have to ask for it.
Annual Golden Bear Pass
- Best for: People who are receiving SSI benefits, CalWORKS benefits, or are low income seniors. Here are the pass requirements.
- Format: Wallet card
Limited Use Golden Bear Pass
- Best for: Seniors of any income level. But not good from Memorial Day through Labor Day . Heres where you can buy the pass.
- Format: Wallet card
These are a handful of passes that you can purchase for very specific interests.
Tahoe Regional Annual Day Use Pass
The California State Parks In General
The California State Parks are managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The State Parks System was established in 1926, but preservation efforts began much earlier. There are more than 270 State Parks units covering nearly 1.4 million acres, or about 1.4% of Californias total land and water surface. The system has over 280 miles of coastline 625 miles of lake and river frontage more than 15,000 campsites and 11,000 picnic sites and 3,000 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
Some facilities are free at others, day-use fees for private vehicle parking range up to $15, and there may be additional fees for services such as boat launching and tours. Senior discounts are available. State Parks passes are available, including annual passes, Golden Bear passes for seniors with limited incomes, and disabled and veteran passes. See Reservations and Fees: Camping, Tours, and Day Use.
- Telephone Mon-Fri 8am-5pm 916.653.6995
There are two additional state park properties without visitor services in the Big Sur region. These are reserves, designed to preserve and protect resources. These properties are not described in this Web site and, as far as I know, their locations are not marked along Highway 1.
- Big Creek State Reserve
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How To Decide Which Pass To Buy If You Want To Visit Ca State Parks & Beaches In Orange County
Always consult the official California State Parks site for the final word on pricing.
If you want to buy a pass, you can get it directly from California State Parks. Now in 2022 there are a number of NO COST options available for your family, as well. These no cost options could weigh into your decision on whether you need to buy a pass.
The California Explorer Pass gives you access to most of the popular state parks . If you have the means to buy the pass its the only way to guarantee youll be able to go when you want to go and it leaves the library passes open to those who truly need it.
At the $15/day rate for Orange County state beaches and parks you only need to go 13 times in a year or basically once a month to make it worthwhile.
NO COST OPTIONS
Here are the closest parks included on this pass:
- California Citrus State Historic Park
- Silver Strand SB
- The others are parks you would be likely to visit on a family vacation or weekend trip to the desert.
There is a National Parks version of this pass for 4th grade students. Its from an initiative called Every Kid Outdoors. Visit the Every Kid Outdoors website and make sure you PRINT OUT YOUR PASS and have it with you when you visit. It has a code thats individual to you so you cant share it.
There are other passes available with discounts for seniors and disabled.
Are There Additional Free Pass Options
Other pass programs that provide free access to state parks include the Golden Bear Pass program, which provides CalWORKS recipients free admission to the same parks. Eligible Distinguished Veterans have free access, and fourth graders have free access to 19 state parks through the Adventure Pass. Check out for more information.
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Find The Right California State Parks Pass For You
Last Modified: April 8, 2022 by Carol Guttery
California has 281 state parks that range from beach parks, historic sites, wildlife reserves, redwood forest, waterways and off road vehicle parks. They are spread across over 163,000 square miles of California, sharing jurisdictions with counties, cities and even the Federal Government. There are a myriad of different ways to get discounted California State Parks passes and sorting through the options can be confusing.
This guide is designed to de-mystify our California park pass system and help you find the right pass to use for your adventures. Well help you figure out if its a better deal to simply buy a California parks day pass or whether its worth it to get an annual pass.
Californias discount pass offerings do change periodically and weve updated this article for 2022 offerings.
When you are finished reading this article, but sure to visit our complete guide to ALL California State Parks. It includes listings by county, FAQs, a map and links to our itineraries and guides which feature state parks.
South Carolina State Parks
scmikeburton via Flickr
The South Carolina “Park Passport” entitles the owners to free and unlimited entry into all South Carolina State Parks that charge an entrance fee. The hangtag pass is valid for one year from the date of purchase and can be transferred from one vehicle to another. The pass can be bought online or by visiting a South Carolina state park office.
A “Palmetto Pass” is also available to senior citizens, blind, or disabled residents of South Carolina and offers the same access as the Park Passport at half the price.
California State Parks List
Use this California state parks list to plan your next outdoor adventure in the Golden State.
California is known for its outdoorsy culture and natural beauty, so its no surprise that there are a ton of state parks and beaches to visit throughout the state.
This is the full list of every single California state park and beach so you can work your way through one beautiful park at a time.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
- Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area
- Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
- Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve
- Lake Del Valle State Recreation Area
- McLaughlin Eastshore State Seashore
- Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
How To Get A Free California State Parks Pass With Your Library Card
LOS ANGELES – Good news for library cardholders who also love the outdoors!
You can now check out a “California State Library Parks Pass”at your local library. It will allow free vehicle day-use entry at all participating parks.
The free passes are good for entry to over 200 participating state parks. You can see which parks are not eligible here. It’s part of a three-year pilot program in partnership with California State Parks and the First Partner’s Office.
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Thanks to this program, each participating library will get at least three pass hang tags per branch for checkout. This also includes mobile libraries.
Passes will be available on a rolling basis through April and May for checkout.
You’ll be able to check out the pass for an allotted number of days allowed by your local library, then return it for others to use.
The pass is valid for entry of one passenger vehicle holding up to nine people.
There are 1,184 public library buildings in California, and more than 23 million Californians have library cards, according to the state.
Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.
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Big Sur Region State Parks Vehicle Day Use Fees
Four state parks in the northern and central Big Sur region allow visitor vehicle access with a single vehicle day use fee payment on the same day. Your vehicle day use fee receipt from Point Lobos State Reserve, Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, or Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is good at all four parks on the same day.
Nearby Eligible State Parks
Q. How do I get a pass?There are two ways to get a pass:
- In-Person: Please check in with library staff to see if there is a pass available.
- Place a Hold: We also have some reservable passes. Those requestable passes can be placed on hold.
Q. What does the pass cover?The pass is valid for entry of one passenger vehicle with capacity of nine people or less or one highway licensed motorcycle at participating state park units.
The pass will not be honored at state park units operated by federal or local government and private agencies or concessionaires. Also, the pass is not valid for per-person entry or tour fees , boat use, camping, group use or sites, special events, additional/extra vehicle fees, sanitation disposal use or for supplemental fees.
Q. Are all state parks accepting the pass?There are over 200 California State Parks accepting the pass, but there are some that are not. Here is the link to ineligible park locations. Federal parks are not included in this program.
Q. Can I check out more than 1 pass?No, there is a limit of one pass at a time on an account. You can check out the pass more than once.
Q. How do I return the pass?Return the pass in its case to any . If possible, we prefer passes to be returned to staff at the information desk during library operation hours. This can help prevent the item from being lost or damaged.
Q. How long can I keep a pass?
Passes can he checked out for a loan period of 3 week with no renewals.
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Are California State Parks Dog
Its a mixed bag. Only about 60 out of the 280 parks allow dogs to have full access to trails. Another 140 or so parks allow dogs to be on limited trails, campsites, and parking lots. The other 80 parks arent dog-friendly.
Of course, these are all just broad estimates. Every park has different restrictions when it comes to bringing your pet. Your best bet is to check the specific park brochure to see what they allow.