How to save when visiting national parks in the USA

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There are more than 2000 places in the American national parks system. In some of the parks, like in the Great Smoky Mountains in the picture above, there is no entrance fee, but in numerous others such as the Grand Canyon, Shenandoah, it can range from $10 to $25 on average. If you are planning to visit several parks during your visit, it’s worth to consider purchasing National Parks pass. It costs $80 and you can use it for a full year (including the last day of the month it was purchased in). It’s valid for one vehicle, which has not more than 4 adults in it. Children until the age of 15 are exempt from the fee. This card is valid for all national and federal parks in the United States. For example such parks as Navaho Antelope will not accept it, but numerous others will. All of the parks list can be seen here as well as thee frequently asked questions.

It’s very easy to use the pass, you simply have to fill in your name in the appropriate line. After returning home you are allowed to give it to someone else, as it has enough space for two signatures. Many of the travelers sell the card for half price upon return, so you can always ask around in your local travelers community. The people using the card don’t have to be related.

It’s possible to buy the pass in numerous locations in the United States or order it online in advance. Before visiting my first ever national park (Joshua Tree), I bought one nearby Los Angeles, using the opportunity to ask all the questions regarding opening hours and similar. At the entrance of every park there is a ranger station, where you can get maps, brochures, and they will tell you all about the most interesting spots. It definitely worth to come by, as rangers also have all the latest information on closed roads and other important nuances.

Most of the parks will ask you to present the pass at the entrance, as well as matching photo ID.  While driving in the park, is customary to put it into special plastic hangtag at the rearview mirror. Sometimes the passes are checked when exiting the park, and rangers have the right to search the vehicle for endangered plant or animal species, as well as rock in such places as Petrified Forest National Park.

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