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Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Adelaide, Australia
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Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

On our last visit we found the America the Beautiful Pass fantastic value and convenience but we were mostly on the west coast.

This time we`ll be on the east coast. Minneapolis, Niagara Falls, then to Bar Harbor and down the coast as far south as Charleston before returning home from New York. We`ll be taking about 8 weeks with of course a reasonable amount of time spent in towns and cities in between, both on the coast and inland.

Can`t find a straightforward list of what`s included and the road trips is really the only forum that covers multiple states on TA

Perhaps someone who has used it in this area can help me.

conn
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1. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

the only parks that have large entrance fees are Acadia and Shendoa most of the other eastern parks just charge a small fee or charge parking or recreation fees with are not covered by the pass. my feeling is the pass is a wash for the east coast.

Chula Vista...
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2. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Hi,

You can go to the National Park Service website and search for parks / monuments by the states you plan on driving through:

http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

You can look at what parks appeal to you and add up the individual entrance fees shown for each park to see if they'll be less than the $80 America the Beautiful pass.

Lewes, United...
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3. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

We've not bought the pass when we have only 'done' the eastern seaboard. There are far fewer large parks with high entrance fees on the east side of the country - too crowded! I don't think it's worth buying the $80 AtB pass unless you have plans to visit other parts of the USA within a year of your east coast visit.

There are some small national parks with very low fees, but far more are state parks which aren't covered by the pass anyway.

How long do you have for your trip? Sounds like a great itinerary!

SWT

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

With 8 weeks I''d always buy the pass. There are so many places you never have thought of where the pass is valid and also sometimes discounts for attractions when you have the pass.

Adelaide, Australia
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5. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Thanks for all the answers.

First thought not useful for the area but as we`ll be passing through about 20 states it`s hard to tell how many small places we`ll come across where we can use it.

It isn`t very expensive and if it comes with discounts would be even better.

Hi SWT. We have a new granddaughter so after the family visit will take off on our travels.

Car hire is also being a pain at the moment. In Aus the earlybird specials are not very special yet but at least our dollar is nice and high.

Lewes, United...
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6. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Congrats on the new granddaughter, D&H! (Yes I did spot you'd put the duration in the OP. Duh!!!!) ;-)

Car hire is undoubtedly more expensive on the east coast, compared to the west. Plus you can't get free one ways. However, every once in a while, especially if there's a company you've used in the past, ideally a few times, if you contact them by phone, you can try and negotiate a deal. I've no tips other than persistence! I'm not familiar enough with when Aussies tend to book their trips, to know when good deals are likely.

Tet - what kinds of discounts? For what kind of attractions? That's a new one on me, never used our pass except to get into a park or national monument!

SWT

Washington State
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7. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

SWT ~ we use our America the Beautiful pass as a parking permit for trailheads here in the Pacific Northwest. We used it to access the historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco (otherwise it's $5 per person) and to drive along Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Yes, those are federal properties so we could have done more research so we'd know that our Pass would cover those fees, but we didn't and were happily surprised. But no discounts.

Marina, California
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8. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Some people call it a "national parks pass" but it's actually a national lands pass, valid at national park, national forest and Bureau of Land Management fee sites. That said, there are relatively few federally managed sites east of the Mississippi that charge fees. I can think of a number of them, like the FDR house in New York and the James Garfield National Historic Site outside of Cleveland. But they're all relatively small and may not be of much entrance to you. But then there are also random discounts, like the $3 or so you get off the entrance fee at the Arch in Saint Louis. The largest one I can think of on the east coast that actually charges a fee is Shenandoah Valley National Park. But the $10 admission there far from makes up for the $80 annual pass.

If it were me, I would skip buying the pass and, when you reach something that actually charges a fee and is of interest to you, then just pay the fee. If you do actually get up to $80, it won't be over by much.

Houston, TX
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9. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Go to www.nps.gov/findapark/passes and you should get to a screen that shows the American the Beautiful pass, aka the Interagency Pass. If you click on the frequently asked questions link in that section, you will get a list of all the places at which you can buy the pass. These are the parks, national monuments and other federal lands that will accept the pass, and they are listed by state. There is a disclaimer that the list may not be totally complete or accurate, but you will be able to check each state on your trip and get a rough idea of where you can use the pass.

We have one for the year starting last October and on our western travels since then it has more than paid for itself. We are planning an eastern road trip for late spring, and I don't think we'll use it much. If I didn't already have it, I probably wouldn't buy it for the upcoming trip, based on our potential itinerary.

Chula Vista...
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10. Re: Value of a Parks Pass for the East Coast

Hi again,

Contrary to what some others have said, there are fee-based parks/sites/attractions along the east coast. Here are just a few that may be along your route:

Acadia - $20

Cape Cod National Seashore - $15

Shenandoah - $15

Fort McHenry - $7

Assateague Island - $15

Appomattox Court House - $10

Wright Brothers / Kitty Hawk - $4

Manassas Battlefield - $3 per person

Antietam - $4 per person

Colonial Nat'l Historic Park (Jamestown/Yorktown) - $10

Edited: 22 January 2013, 21:34