There are 58 national parks and over 2,000 recreation sites across the United States. Many have admission prices that make it difficult for some people to enjoy the beauty of these parks. Fortunately, the federal government has a program for people with disabilities to get an Access Pass, which allows them to visit most national parks at no cost. You can find a list of all national parks and recreation facilities on the National Park Service website.
How to apply for an Access Pass
There are two ways to apply for an Access Pass:
- In person at one of the federal recreation sites that issue passes (those sites that charge an entrance fee). Check this list to find one close to you.
- By mailing an application to the National Park Services. There is a $10.00 processing fee when applying by mail.
Whether you apply in-person or by the mail, you will need additional information:
- Proof of citizenship or permanent residency. Documents you can use include a state or territory issued driver’s license or picture identification card, a birth certificate, a U.S. passport of a permanent residence green card.
- Documentation of your disability which could be a statement from your doctor stating you are permanently disabled, a letter from a federal agency indicating permanent disability, proof of receipt of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or documents issued by a state or territory indicating you are eligible to receive vocational benefits or services based on a permanent disability. Bring the documentation when you apply in person or mail photocopies of the documentation with your application.
What is covered by the Access Pass?
Most Federal recreation sites that charge an entrance fee accept the Access Pass and will allow you to enter the park or site without paying a fee. Because the pass program is operated by six different federal agencies, there may be some sites that do not participate in the program. You should always check with the site you want to visit before going to the site.
Some federal sites will also offer discounts to pass holders for activities such as swimming, camping, boat launching or rentals, and guided tours. However, sometimes these activities are operated by private concessionaires, who are not required to offer a discount. If you plan to participate in these types of activities, you can contact the site to find out which activities, if any, are discounted for pass holders.
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