U.S. National Parks

As the United States expanded its territories westward in the early and mid-19th century, Americans ventured out to explore those vast uncharted lands that stretched to the Pacific Ocean. The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–06 and subsequent forays by organized groups and by individuals brought back stories of remarkable wonders that had been seen in the West. A growing number of people, notably the naturalist and conservationist John Muir, began calling on the federal government to protect those scenic places from exploitation.

By the early 20th century it was clear that a system of national parks was being created in the country. All national parks and most national monuments were under the purview of the Interior Department, but at that time each was administered separately and by different authorities.

In 1933, shortly after Franklin D. Roosevelt became U.S. president, both the Interior Department and the NPS were reorganized. As part of the restructuring, many national monuments and historic sites that had been administered by other government agencies were transferred to NPS control, thus further consolidating the country’s scenic and historic places under a central authority.

The National Park Service is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to benefit from facilities, programs, services, and activities whether they are indoors or outdoors. Discover accessible features in parks and learn more about what is provided accessibility across the National Park System.

National Parks are scattered throughout the United States. The following list is units managed by the National Park System, including national parks, national monuments, national historic sites, national battlefields, national preserves, and other related sites.

For Disabled Travelers going to the National Parks, you are eligable for a free access pass. The following will help you in aquiring the pass along with a brief description of the other available park passes.

Entrance Passes

America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series

Each pass covers entrance fees at lands managed by the National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service and also standard amenity fees (day use fees) at lands managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers the pass owner and all occupants in a personal vehicle at sites that charge per vehicle or, the pass owner and up to three additional adults (16 and over) at sites that charge per person. Children ages 15 or under are admitted free.

To find a location near you that issues these interagency passes, search the  list of all federal recreation sites where the passes are issued, including national parks. In addition to getting one of the Interagency Passes in person at national parks and other federal recreation sites, many of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands (Interagency) Passes are available to order from the USGS Online Store (allow at least three weeks for order processing and delivery). Please visit the USGS Online Store for detailed information about how to purchase a pass online and whether purchasing a pass now is the right decision for you.

Please remember when making your purchase that Interagency Passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, cannot be extended and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen. Passholders must show valid photo identification (ID) with each pass.

Photo on the pass is by Steven Koehler, Yellowstone National Park

Access Pass

There is a free, lifetime America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. The pass provides admittance into participating federal recreation sites, and a wide range of discounts on activities and services when you visit federal lands.

Cost: Free lifetime pass

Available for: US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship.

How to get:

Additional Information:

  • Find detailed information about this pass on the USGS Store’s Access Pass and Frequently Asked Questions webpages.
  • Find Frequently Asked Questions about this and other interagency passes on the USGS Store’s website.
  • The Access Pass may provide a 50 percent 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.
  • Golden Access Passports are no longer sold. However, these passes are still honored according to the provisions of the pass. Passes may not be purchased as gifts since eligible recipient must show proof of eligibility.
  • Passes may not be purchased as gifts since eligible recipient must present proof of eligibility.


Image designed by the National Park Service