Individuals With Disabilities Can Get a Lifelong Pass to National Parks for $10

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  • To gain entrance to a national park, visitors must pay an entrance fee or show a park pass.
  • People with disabilities can apply for a lifelong pass to access qualifying national parks and lands.
  • To apply for the Access Pass, you'll need to have documentation that proves permanent disability.

Permanently disabled people can apply for a lifelong national parks pass.

The United States is home to many incredible national parks and lands -- each with its own unique history. Exploring national parks and recreation sites is a great way to get outdoors while seeing more of the country. But visiting our many national parks comes with a cost. However, for individuals with permanent disabilities, that cost could be nearly free.

National parks require visitors to pay a fee or show a pass to enter, as each has a daily entrance rate. You can pay per vehicle or per person for admission. Alternatively, you can show an annual pass to enter without paying a daily fee. The National Park Service's Annual Pass pass costs $80. An annual pass is an excellent option for adventurers who plan to visit several parks throughout the year.

But those aren't the only ways to access our national parks and lands. The National Park Service offers the Access Pass to individuals with disabilities. You can apply for this pass if you have a qualifying permanent disability.

Introducing the Access Pass

The Access Pass is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of any age who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability that impacts one or more major life activities. You don't need to be 100% disabled to qualify for this pass.

You may be wondering what qualifies as a permanent disability. The permanent disability can be a physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working.

How to get the pass: You can apply for the Access Pass at a federal recreation site or through the mail. If you apply through the mail, you'll need to pay a $10 processing fee.

You'll need to provide documentation that proves permanent disability. Examples of acceptable documentation include:

  • A statement from a licensed physician outlining that the disability is permanent and impacts on or more areas of life, and the nature of your limitations.
  • A document issued from a Federal agency, such as the Social Security Disability or the Veterans Administration.
  • A document issued by a state agency.

The Access Pass gives you free lifetime access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Up to three additional adults can also get free admission, along with the pass holder.

If you qualify for this pass, take the time to apply -- it could enable you to spend more time outdoors without negatively impacting your budget.

Many state parks offer free passes or discounts

State parks are also excellent places to visit if you like the outdoors. You may wonder if people with disabilities can get free or discounted access to state parks nationwide. Many states offer free or discounted access, but programs vary from state to state.

Check if your state parks offer free passes or discounts, and check with other states before planning your next out-of-state trip. Keep in mind that you may need to provide documentation and apply for a pass before arriving at a participating state park.

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