Gear pick of the year 2017 – Interagency Pass

From the USGS website

My recent article about the national parks received a fair amount of comments.

The comments showed how people are passionate about the parks regardless of political beliefs.

People love national parks and our public lands.

And access to these public lands is an issue we are passionate about.

So my Gear Pick of the Year for 2017?  An America the Beautiful (Annual Interagency Pass).  A purchase that will help you access these public lands more economically.

Concern was expressed concern that the America the Beautiful (Annual Interagency Pass) may be going up in price.

As written in the earlier article, at $80 annually, the Interagency Pass is currently quite the bargain; the pass is good for NPS, BLM, USFS, National Wildlife Refuges, and other agencies.  People over sixty-two, permanently disabled, in the 4th grade, veterans, in the military, and others are eligible for a reduced cost or even a  free version of this pass.

At least talking to various NPS personnel recently, there is no talk of the pass going up in price.


So get it now!

In October and November alone, I used this pass in four national parks and three national monuments.  And two visited Tuesday. Considering Grand Canyon National Park is $30 alone (and, as discussed, going up in price during the prime season)  for the entrance, the pass quickly paid for itself.

But Paul, you are an unemployed bum. How can I, a contributing citizen to society, possibly make use of this pass?

Even when I was working diligently in beige box land, I always made use of this pass. The local recreation area honored it. I hung it up at trailheads and did not have to pay for parking. Some off-the-beaten-path places ended up as free. And I always made use of it during my precious vacation time on more than one occasion before I gave myself the gift of time in September.

If a person, or a family, goes to a National Park more than twice a year, they really should get the pass. Add in the misc smaller (less expensive) National Monuments, historic areas, USFS, BLM, wildlife refuges, etc. That also takes this pass. The ROI for purchasing an Interagency Pass is quite good.  Some state parks or private museums near popular NPS units will even discount if you have the national pass.

Get a piece of “gear” that is truly valuable, and you will use it. A person can only have so many packs, puffy jackets, rain shells, tents, etc.

And if you are looking for a gift that all outdoors people can use, GET THEM THIS ANNUAL PASS INSTEAD!  (Assuming they don’t have an annual pass already, of course.)   Combine the pass with a library card, and the active outdoors person has two precious pieces of gear.

Top Fifty Pieces of Clickbait Crap is not something most experienced outdoors people need. Their gear system is established. And you purchase a gift for them is not terribly helpful unless they specifically request you to buy something.

And, let us be honest,  these gift guides are really gifted guides for you, the gentle reader.

Don’t buy gear if you don’t need it.  Do you need yet another ultralight knick-knack?

Get something that will help you ACCESS THE OUTDOORS MORE instead.

An America The Beautiful Pass will make our public lands more accessible to you.

Enjoy those mountains, canyons, forests, wetlands, or prairies.

And one card covers friends or family that are with you. And you can put a significant other on the pass. You share the gift this way, too!

One $80 purchase will pay for itself quite quickly if you enjoy those lands more than any $80 worth of stuff collected over the holiday season.

Truly opt to be outside.  And buy, and make use of, an America the Beautiful (Annual Interagency Pass).  

You can pick it up at various places,  the USGS store or even REI. The USGS store and REI will mail it out.

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6 years ago

Well said! My annual parks pass is a certainly a favorite piece of gear. This year I’ve got the volunteer pass, which you get for volunteering 250 hours for a federal land management agency.

Parks passes are also versatile, multi-functional parts of a backpacking kit. I use mine to open my bear-canister like Nancy shows in her post here:

6 years ago

If you’re 62 or older, the Senior Pass is still a bargain, even though it’s no longer $10 (as it was when I got it). You pay the $80 once and it’s good for the rest of your life. In addition to letting you into national parks, fish and wildlife refuges, and BLM sites that charge, if your regional national forests charge for trailhead parking (as they do here in the Pacific NW), it works for that too. Plus you get 50% off on campground fees. Since you have to show proof of age when buying it, it’s really not… Read more »

Rob M
Rob M
6 years ago

Nailed it!!!

Jim Austin
Jim Austin
6 years ago

In one of the Parks where daily/weekly passes are going up in price to $70, like Shenandoah NP, I understand there will be three options for most people not covered by the age, disability, military issues you mentioned: 1) Daily/weekly: $70 per week 2) Annual Park-specific: $75 per year 3) Annual Interagency: $80 per year Numbers 1 and 2 mandate that the bulk of the fee stays with the Park that sold the Pass. Number 3 does not — most of those funds wind up in another basket administered by NPS out of DC. If I’m wrong about this, please… Read more »

Jim Austin
Jim Austin
6 years ago

My bad. The Comment Period for the fee increase has been extended to 12/22: