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People with Disabilities Get Free Lifetime Pass to National Parks

Everyone has the opportunity to purchase an America the Beautiful pass, which is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites (like National Parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges). It includes such beautiful parks as Badlands, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, the Redwoods, Yosemite, Rocky Mountains, and Yellowstone.




However, if you or your child has a permanent disability, you may be entitled to a free, lifetime America the Beautiful pass called the "Access Pass". The pass is free and available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have permanent disabilities.


The pass covers your entrance fee at national parks as well as standard amenity fees (or day use fees) at national forests and grasslands. In areas that charge per vehicle, the pass will cover the driver and all passengers. In areas that charge per person, the pass will cover the pass owner and up to three adults. Children under 16 are free. If one person in your family qualifies for the Access Pass, you can all visit the parks for free with that person. Photo identification will be requested to verify pass ownership.


The Access Pass may provide a 50% discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services. The Access Pass generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.


The Access Pass is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of any age who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. It does not have to be a 100% disability but must severely limit one or more major life activities. A permanent disability is a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working.


You can obtain this pass (1) in person at a federal recreation site or (2) through the mail using this application form. Obtaining the Access Pass through the mail costs $10 for processing. The applicant must provide documentation of the permanent disability and residency or citizenship. Documentation to prove permanent disability includes:


  • Statement by a licensed physician. Must state that the individual has a permanent disability, that it limits one or more aspects of his/her daily life, and the nature of those limitations

  • Document issued by federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income

  • Document issued by a state agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency


Source: National Park Service and Lifehacker People With Disabilities Are Entitled to a Free Lifetime Pass to National Parks by Emily Price

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