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National Parks Pass: Should you have one?

February 28, 2001

National Parks Pass: Should you have one?



By JENNIFER SILBERT

jennifers@herald-mail.com

Chances are you've been to a park or historical area in the National Park System at one time or another.

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If you're planning to visit one of the big national parks this year, or if you're a regular visitor to Tri-State area parks, you might be interested in checking out the National Parks Pass. Part economics, part philanthropy, the purchase of a pass can save you money and help preserve our national parks.

The pass costs $50 and is valid for one year from the month of purchase. It gives the user free admission to any national park charging an entrance fee. If a park has a per vehicle entrance fee, the pass admits all the passengers in the private vehicle. If the park charges a per person fee, the pass admits the pass signee, spouse, children and parents. It does not cover camping, parking, tour and concession fees. It is also nontransferable.

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With a $20 entrance fee to many of the popular major parks, such as Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and the Rocky Mountains, the park pass can pay off if you plan to travel this summer.

Locally, access to some parks is free, while others may charge a nominal fee.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> It costs $2 per person to visit the museum and see the film at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> You'll pay $5 per vehicle to get into Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> A visit to the battlefields at Manassas in Virginia and Valley Forge in Pennsylvania or a trip to Great Falls Park in McLean costs $2 per person. Fort McHenry in Baltimore costs $5 per person.

A series of local trips can add up. So if your visits are more local, would you still consider purchasing a pass?

It could save you money. But purchasing a pass is also an investment in national parks. More than 80 percent of the proceeds from the sales of the National Parks Passes go directly back to the parks. The monies go to the park that sells the museum pass.

John Howard, superintendent of Antietam National Battlefield credits the proceeds from the passes with numerous improvements made at the visitor's center.

"We can do many things we didn't have the funding for," Howard said. New museum exhibits, new lighting and new carpets have been funded directly by proceeds from pass sales. In the future, all restrooms will undergo a rehabilitation to make them more accessible.

Passes can be purchased at the visitor's center of any national park.

Hours vary, but all are open seven days a week.

Order one online at www.nationalparks.org, or by calling 1-888-GO-PARKS.

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