US National Park family pass??

Old Feb 28th, 2009, 02:43 PM
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US National Park family pass??

What is the least expensive way for a family of 4 to visit 4 national parks/monuments on one vacation?? I've heard of an "interagency pass", but is this for an individual or carload?
Last time Grandma and Grandpa went along and we coasted thru on their senior lifetime pass, but there are no seniors this time.

Thank you in advance....
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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It for the carload. Here's the link http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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The $80 annual pass covers the passholder plus the rest of the people in the car. That's what we use.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for the quick response...the link you sent says "Valid for one full year from month of purchase". Does anyone know if you buy the annual pass on say June 1, would it expire on the next June 1 or the next June 30?? Just thinking that I might be able to squeeze two years' worth of vacations out of it.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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Just to clarify a little--the $80 annual pass covers a carload of visitors for those parks that charge by the carload. For parks that have individual charges, such as Historic Jamestowne and Manassas Battlefield in Virginia, the annual pass covers the passholder plus 3 other adults. Children under the age of 16 are free.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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It's one full year. So if you buy on June 1, it expires on May 31 the following year. Not one year and one month.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Actually, a pass bought any time in June would be good through the end of June the following year. They punch out the month of validity on the card, but it doesn't show the date.

I bought my pass in mid-July of last year. They punched out the month of July, showing that it expires in July 2009. That has to be at the end of the month; otherwise I wouldn't get a full year of use.

Here is the word from the official website:

"The Pass is validated (punched) the month of purchase regardless of whether the pass is for you, or a gift for someone else. Passes are valid for 12 months beginning with the month of sale (i.e., Pass purchased in April 2008 is valid through April 2009)."

http://store.usgs.gov/pass/annual.html
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Okay, I thought I could buy the pass online now and get it validated in early June so it would be good thru the end of June 2010. But they must go by the purchase date and not the validation date?? Does anyone know for sure?
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 04:58 PM
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They go by the date of purchase---it is "validated" at that time.

This is a change from the prior pass, which you could buy ahead and it would be validated by computer the first time you used it, even if it was months later. I suspect they changed it because a lot of them (like my previous one) don't get validated by the park on first use. Several months later when I used it again, the ranger found it hadn't been validated, so she started it then, "giving" me the extra four months. Now that can't happen.

So buy it on June 1 to get the maximum use from it (assuming you are actually going to use it in June.)
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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You can buy the pass at the first park you visit, so you don't have to get one before you leave for your trip.

Lee Ann
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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Just make sure that the first park you visit isn't one of the most popular. One of the benefits of the pass is the dedicated lane for pass holders at some of the more popular parks. Do you have a national park near you? You can always buy your pass there a few days before your trip.
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 07:47 PM
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Our first park is Zion. The only park close by is Gettysburg Ntl Military Park and they don't require a pass (they haven't found a way to enclose the whole town I guess!).
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 07:53 PM
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I know for an absolute fact that the NPS views a pass as valid from the month of validation till the last day of the month that it expires. You could, in theory, get thirteen months of use out of a one-year pass. I had no trouble buying a pass in early October one year, and using it for entry in late October the next year.

And BTW, it gets better. It's completely legal for two completely un-related people to use the same pass, just so long as each of them sign for it and don't try to use it at the same time. Thus, one family can use it in May and June; and a completely different family can use it in July and August. There's only space for two signatures, but there is no requirement that the two people who sign for it have any relationship whatsoever.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 06:28 AM
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Zion is a very popular park but I can't remember whether they had a parks pass lane. Does Getttysburg sell parks passes even though they don't require them or maybe it would be better for you to buy your pass online before you leave?
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 08:26 AM
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PaulRabe: Very good info! I know of another family traveling a month after we are going. I seem to remember that the rangers check ID but I guess it only has to match 1 person in the car, correct??

Birdie: I don't know if GNMP sells passes, but I am going to find out!
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 12:08 PM
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Ken, let me just quote from

http://store.usgs.gov/pass/annual.html#use

1. What does the Annual Pass cover?
The Annual Pass admits pass owner/s and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas; and pass owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free.)

2. Does the relationship of the two pass owners matter?
No. The two pass owners do not have to be related or married.


Can you buy the pass at one place, have one person sign it, give it to another person a month later, and have that person sign it and use it? I don't know. But, if you are able to do that, it doesn't appear you're breaking any of the regulations.
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Old Mar 1st, 2009, 12:18 PM
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One more thing to add, Ken in PA. You mentioned that you're close to Gettysburg, but don't think they sell the pass there. Fortunately, you CAN buy the pass at either Hopewell Furnace NHS or Antitem NBP, each just down the road from Gettysburg.

http://www.nps.gov/hofu/planyourvisi...servations.htm
http://www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisi...servations.htm

The month of your initial departure, you can go with this other person to Hopewell or Antitem, pay for your Pass, each of you could sign it right there, and then you could split its use till that month the next year. If each of you go to only three or four sites in that year, it'd pay for itself.
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