I'm interested in going cross-country in an RV, and my wife and I really like visiting National Parks. How can we make this more affordable (the park part, not the RV, necessarily)?
–Dale, Columbia, Mo.
If you're planning on visiting lots of National Parks, consider getting a pass to make it cheaper. To encourage people to visit our national parks, several federal agencies responsible for managing land and wilderness in America have teamed up to create a series of annual passes called the "America the Beautiful" National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes.
There are several versions, all of which get you one year’s worth of access to all lands managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
The National Park System comprises 391 distinct areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware). These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House!
The "America the Beautiful" pass covers entrance fees or standard amenity fees and admits the pass holder and up to three adult passengers in a single, non-commercial vehicle to the parks. Kids under age 16 are free. A general pass costs $80, seniors pay $10, and volunteers and people with disabilities are free. Senior and disabled passes can only be bought in person at the park; buy other passes online at http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html or by calling, toll-free, 888-ASK-USGS (275-8747), ext. 1.