Cougar Ridge

Breaking Down the Savings of a National Park Annual Pass

Jan 14, 2024 | Capitol Reef National Park, National Parks, Our Blog | 0 comments

If you’re looking to save some money on your next visit to Utah, planning a visit during the winter months can be a great choice. Resorts—including Cougar Ridge—often offer discounts that can help you save on your stay, leaving more money to spend on other activities.

But what if you want to visit throughout the rest of the year? Or save money on more than just your stay? If you are already planning to visit multiple national parks, there’s another way you save.

A national park annual pass allows access to any National Park Service site in the country for one year. Instead of paying for multiple entrance fees at multiple parks, you’ll pay just one set price. The more parks you visit, the more you’ll save.

If you’re thinking about planning a stay in lodges in Utah, keep reading. We’re breaking down the savings of a national park annual pass, and helping you decide whether to purchase one for your visit.

The National Park Annual Pass

Just over a quarter of all National Park Service sites charge an entrance fee. This fee is used to support various park programs, repair and maintenance of facilities, and more. The entrance fees at national parks vary widely, with most charging between $25 and $35 per vehicle load. 

Individuals planning to visit a national park more than three or four times within a year, or to visit multiple national parks within a year, can choose to purchase a national park annual pass. Called the America the Beautiful Annual Pass, it provides access to all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee for one year from the date of purchase. Each card can have two named cardholders and allows access to the park for one cardholder and up to three guests, or two cardholders and two guests at a time. 

The America the Beautiful Pass costs $80 and can be purchased at the entrance gate of a National Park Service site that charges a fee, such as the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park. It can also be purchased online. This pass is available to anyone, including non-citizens visiting the U.S. But certain individuals may be eligible for a free or discounted America the Beautiful Pass.

Discounted National Park Annual Passes

Anyone can purchase a regular America the Beautiful Pass. But certain populations may be eligible for a discounted or even free pass:

  • Current U.S. military members and their dependents are eligible for a free America the Beautiful Pass. This includes members of the reserves and National Guard. This pass must be renewed each year.
  • Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans are also eligible for a free America the Beautiful Pass. This Military Lifetime Pass never expires.
  • U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are age 62 or older are eligible for a Senior Pass. They can choose between a Lifetime Pass, which costs $80, or an annual pass, which costs $20.
  • Citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities may be eligible for a free lifetime pass. Individuals who volunteer with a federal agency for 250 service hours may be eligible for a free annual pass.
  • Finally, fourth graders in a U.S. school or children age 10 in a home-school or free-choice learner program are eligible for a free pass for the duration of the school year. You’ll need to fill out and turn in an Every Kid Outdoors voucher to get the pass, which is valid during the child’s fourth grade school year, from September to August.

Most of these passes require some form of ID to show your eligibility. They can be purchased online or from a National Park Service site that charges an entrance fee.

Should You Purchase a National Park Annual Pass for Your Stay in Lodges in Utah?

If you’re planning a visit to lodges in Utah, you might be wondering whether or not a national park annual pass will save you money during your stay. That largely depends on your plans.

Of course, if you’re planning a stay in the best mountain home lodge Utah has to offer, you’ll no doubt visit Capitol Reef National Park. This park has one of the lower entrance fees of Utah’s national parks, charging just $20 per vehicle, or $10 per person over the age of 15 if entering on foot. This fee doesn’t just get you entrance to the park for a day; you can use it to enter the park for seven consecutive days. This means that you’ll be able to visit the park multiple times during your stay without paying the entrance fee again.

If that’s the only park that you’ll visit during your stay in lodges in Utah, and you won’t visit other national parks within the year, a national park annual pass won’t save you money.

But if you know that you’ll return to our resort—and we know that you’ll no doubt want to after your stay!—more than four times in a year, or if you visit other national parks during your stay or in the following 12 months, a national park annual pass might be a good investment.

Arches National Park is a great day trip during your stay. Entrance to this park will cost you $30 per vehicle. If you decide to turn your stay in lodges in Utah into a road trip, a visit to Zion National Park will cost you $35 per vehicle. Canyonlands National Park is also $30 per vehicle. If you visited just three of these parks during your visit, you would break even on the national park annual pass or save some money. Breaking even would mean that you could visit other national parks throughout the year at no cost!

Planning Your Stay at Lodges in Utah

Purchasing a national park annual pass can be a great way to save some money during your stay at Cougar Ridge, and to allow you to visit other national parks throughout the year. 

Ready to start planning your own stay at lodges in Utah? Book your stay at our resort today!

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