America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: Maine, Montana Senators Push for Digitized Version of Pass

by Caitlin Berard

For outdoor lovers, there’s no better gift than an America the Beautiful pass. Rather than a standard day or annual pass to a single national park, the America the Beautiful pass grants the holder access to thousands of protected sites across the country.

What to Know:

  • The America the Beautiful pass grants unlimited annual access to National Parks across the country
  • Currently, pass holders carry a paper version of the pass
  • Two U.S. senators are pushing for a digital version of the pass in future

Two Senators Push for a Digital Version of the America the Beautiful Pass

Currently, the pass is $80 and can be purchased from many of the nation’s federal recreation sites. It’s also available for purchase online. Once purchased, the buyer receives a paper pass, allowing them to visit virtually any national park or national wildlife refuge of their choosing.

One America the Beautiful pass covers entrance fees, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas. For outdoor enthusiasts, it’s essentially a key to endless fun.

This year, two senators are looking to make exploring the nation’s parks even easier. Rather than the traditional paper version, the politicians asked the National Park Service to create a digital version of the pass.

Independent Senator Angus King of Maine and Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana are behind this request. They believe a digital version of the America the Beautiful pass would be helpful for visitors of America’s busiest parks. According to the senators, National Parks visitors have “grown to expect the convenience of modern technology during daily activities.”

They may be onto something. A digital pass is already available at Acadia National Park in Maine and popular among visitors to the park.

Is an America the Beautiful Pass for You?

Whether paper or digital, an America the Beautiful pass provides the same benefits. But is spending the $80 the right move for you? Well, let’s break it down.

Spending the $80 to get the pass doesn’t grant full reign of the parks. You’re still required to pay for amenities such as camping, boating, etc. However, if you frequent the nation’s parks, it’s more than worth the investment.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re planning a week-long road trip that will take you through the National Parks of California. If you visit Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Yosemite, you’re going to pay $95 in entrance fees alone. Your America the Beautiful pass will have already paid for itself and you still have 51 weeks of adventures left!

Additionally, keep in mind that for U.S. military veterans, Gold Star family members, active U.S. military members, and their dependents, the pass is completely free!