Our America the Beautiful Pass Anniversary

Yesterday, Aaron pointed out that this weekend is Mother’s Day. I’m sure I was supposed to know that, as I am a mother and even have a mother, but somehow time has moved too fast and it came upon me without much warning. This is probably a first in the history of mothers. 😉

Anyway, at this time last year, I was working to finish my dissertation and preparing to move across the country. Knowing it would be a while before we made it back to the area, we wanted to take the opportunity to enjoy Shenandoah National Park before leaving Virginia. With our impending cross-country drive and move to a state that boasts five absolutely beautiful national parks, we opted to purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (“the Pass”). This might have been one of our best decisions! The Pass only costs $80 and covers your admission to all national parks (and many monuments for an entire year. It is a fantastic deal, given how well maintained and beautiful our National Parks are. I highly recommend getting one. Certain groups can even get a free or discounted pass, including current military and their dependents (free), 4th graders (or 10-year-old home-schoolers), senior citizens ($10 for a lifetime pass), and U.S. citizens with a permanent disability (free Access Pass).

If you aren’t going to be traveling, but live near a National Park, you can also get an annual pass specific for that park (typically around $30 for the year, but varies by park). This is what we did when we moved to Virginia and the Shenandoah Pass certainly paid for itself quickly.

We have worked (played?) hard to get the most of our Pass, visiting seven parks over the past year! They are all fantastic and each visit was far too short. In addition to this blog, we have kept track of our trips by putting a ‘cancellation’ stamp (which can typically be obtained in the Park’s visitors center or gift shops) Sprout’s Passport to the National Parks. It is a great souvenir and a fun way to track all the Parks she has been too (without buy a bunch of stuff). Older kids may also enjoy the Kids’ Passport to Your National Parks Companion book. I don’t believe there is a spot for cancellation stamps in this book, but there is more information on each park and a check list of all the parks where kids can keep track of the parks they have visited.


Here is a list of the parks we have visited this year! Can’t wait to visit more over the next year.

  1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  2. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
  3. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  5. Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
  6. Zion National Park, Utah
  7. Yosemite National Park, California

What parks are you hoping to visit this year?


Leave a Reply