A Year with my America the Beautiful National Park Pass

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“Your pass has expired.”  My jaw dropped.  I couldn’t believe it.  My America the Beautiful National Park Pass had expired.  It feels like just yesterday that I bought the pass and now it is expired.  I got over my shock and reached into my wallet and handed my credit card over.  Time to pay $80.00 for another park pass.

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For the 12 months, I have had traveled across the USA visiting parks around the county. In total, I visited 33 National Park Service units during the 12 months my 2015 America the Beautiful National Park Pass was valid.  Broken down, I visited:

  • 9 National Monument (1 duplicate)
  • 9 National Park
  • 7 National Historic Site
  • 3 Historical Parks
  • 2 National Battlefields
  • 1 National Seashore
  • 1 National Memorial
  • 1 National Recreation Area

I managed to visit at least one unit a month.  In total, I should have spent $214.00 on National Park entrance fees instead I spent $80.00 on my pass and made the most of my pass. This doesn’t including about $50.00 in cave tours and $11.00 for parking which the passes don’t cover.

Month 1

Wind Cave National Park

Entrance Fee – Free

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I did about 5 miles of hiking and the Natural Entrance and Fairgrounds, Candlelight tours.

Jewel Cave National Monument

Entrance Fee – Free

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I took the scenic and lantern cave tours and did about 3 miles of hiking.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Entrance Fee – Free

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Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – Free

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I went below ground to see the Minuteman underground bunker and missile silos.

Badlands National Park

Entrance Fee – $15.00

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I hike about 20 miles in the park, saw the northern lights, and went fossil hunting.

Devil’s Towner National Monument

Entrance Fee – $10.00

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I hiked around the tower and learned its history.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – Free

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I tried some elk meat, watched a historical reenactment, and explored the Fort.

Month 2

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Entrance Fee – $3.00

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I hiked the trails of Scotts Bluff and imagined being a pioneer on the Oregon Trail.

Agate Fossils Bead National Monument

Entrance Fee – Free

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I hike out the fossil sites and enjoyed learning about the former ocean.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Entrance Fee – $30.00

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I did some short day hikes and drove the mountain roads.

Month 3

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – $5.00

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I explored this recreated historic trading fort.

Sand Creek National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – Free

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I paid my respects to one of the many Indian massacres committed by the US government.

Maggie L Walked National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – Free

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I explored the house of an impressive African-American woman who didn’t let society stand in her way.

Month 4

Dinosaur National Monument

Entrance Fee – $20.00

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I almost got stuck on one of the park’s dirt roads, saw the amazing fossils, and some great hiking.

Great Basin National Park

Entrance Fee – Free

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I explored this amazing cave and did some hiking.

Yosemite National Park

Entrance Fee – $15.00

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I watched the sunset over Half-Dome and hiked to Yosemite Falls.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Entrance Fee – Free

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I spent my birthday in jail on Alcatraz Island.

Fort Point National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – Free

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I stopped at this historic fort that caused the Golden Gate Bridge to be redesigned around it.

Muir Woods National Monument

Entrance Fee – $10.00

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I walked among the redwoods.

Month 5

Colonial National Historical Park

Entrance Fee – $14.00

I toured the first English permeant settlement in the United States. I forgot my camera for this day trip.

Fort Monroe National Monument

Entrance Fee – Free

I toured this Civil war error fort. I forgot my camera for this day trip.

Month 6

Cape Canaveral National Seashore

Entrance Fee – $5.00

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I spent the day at the beach and saw some manatees.

Month 7

Castle Clinton National Monument

Entrance Fee – Free

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I stopped by to visit this fort on my way to the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty National Monument

Entrance Fee – Free

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I made a last minute trip to the Statue of Liberty.

Month 8

Zion National Park

Entrance Fee – $12.00

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I hiked Angles Landing and Observation Point.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Entrance Fee – $30.00

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I did a short hike among the hoodoos and got to see some snow.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Entrance Fee – $5.00

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I took a tour of an American poet’s house.

Month 9

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Entrance Fee – Free

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I explored the hiking trails in the swamps of Louisiana.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

Entrance Fee – Free

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I got my Jazz on in the big easy.

Joshua Tree National Park

Entrance Fee – $20.00

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I hiked over 12 miles among the Joshua Trees.

Month 10

Gettysburg National Battlefield

Entrance Fee – Free

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I did a driving tour of one of the most historic and important battle of the American Civil War.

Month 11

Muir Woods National Monument

Entrance Fee – $10.00

A Year with my 2015 America the Beautiful National Park Pass

I made a second trip to see the redwoods.

Pinnacles National Park

Entrance Fee – $10.00

A Year with my 2015 America the Beautiful National Park Pass

I did a 10-mile hiking loop as saw a California condor.

Month 12

Richmond National Battlefield

Entrance Fee – Free

A Year with my 2015 America the Beautiful National Park Pass

I explored a battlefield in my new home.

Do you have an America the Beautiful National Park Pass? Which of these national parks have you visited?

I had an amazing year exploring US National Parks with my America the Beautiful National Park Pass. The pass saved me over $120.00 in entrance fees.

14 Replies to “A Year with my America the Beautiful National Park Pass”

  1. Pingback: A Walk in the woods at Muir Woods National Monument

  2. Erika Bisbocci

    Sounds like you were able to make good use of your pass and visit some pretty spectacular places! I bought the yearly pass in August and it has almost paid for itself already! I find that buying the pass is great motivation to go out and explore the parks and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve ever bought it.

    Reply
  3. Megan Jerrard

    You got some great use out of it! I love the National Park Pass, it was the best thing we purchased for our multiple roadtrips across the US. I always include it on my list of Christmas gift ideas for people to buy the US traveler, because it really does pay for itself!

    Reply
  4. Nisha

    National parks are treasures of the USA. $80 is cheap if you compare what you have seen & experienced.
    Good that you bought the pass again.

    Reply
  5. Karla

    If I lived in the states I would definitely make use of this. I went for 6 months this year and I loved the National Parks especially in Arizona

    Reply
  6. Punita Malhotra

    Sometimes I wonder how people say “we’ve done the US National Parks” after a short 2 week trip to the country. You covered it all in a year, and that’s the only way to do justice to these gorgeous places, I think. Unfortunately, we stay on the other side of the globe, so…

    Reply
  7. Ehsanul Haque

    This was such an awesome read! Your photography is incredible! The National Park Pass is something I have wanted to get for a long time. But I’ve been out of the country so long! Hoping to do the same when I do get the chance!

    Reply
  8. Carla Abanes

    Good thing I came across this post! Great tip about the savings I can make if I get the National Park Pass card. I will definitely get one when I do my roundup of national parks in US. Though I think I have only a few months of stay 🙁

    Reply

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