All About Annual State Parks Passes

Have you heard of an annual state parks pass? Have you considered purchasing it? Are you an Annual State Parks Pass owner, or have you been a previous owner?

If you are live near several state parks and/or beaches and plan to be more active within the next 12 months, this could be an option for you. I know lots of people on IG have been impacted due to the pandemic, and with everything closing down – we are thinking about what we could do, and the outdoors are one of the safest places.

Of course, this is relevant to your state and if it offers an annual State Parks Pass.

TIP: Trip Savvy is a great resource that outlines the different state parks and whether a state requires an Annual Park Pass.

Roadtripping and Vacationers:
I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a state parks pass if you are visiting or road-tripping, especially in California.

In California, the cheapest pass is worth $120.
Admissions for parks can be up to $10. One pro of the California’s State Parks Pass is it applies to state beaches. Therefore, it will require visiting the beach and state parks up to 15 times, meaning you plan to visit a park or beach twice a month.

If you are an avid runner, cyclist, or hiker, this could be something valuable to you.

When I used to run, I’d seek out places to visit to do my long-run (10-15+ miles) once a week. Therefore, I’d personally love the thought of having the option to not worry about a fee to park every single visit.

California State Parks Pass Perk:
Annual passes are not tied to an individual. Passes can be purchased and then gifted. Annual passes can be purchased as gifts online or in person at our designated pass sales locations. It is great Gift idea for someone who is looking to be more active!
Link to learn more:

Other States
Other states are probably much cheaper, of course, since entrance fees are probably cheaper.

Example: Texas is $70

Options to Look: One Vehicle Only or Shared Vehicle Pass
Some offer a pass for the vehicle only, and there might be an option to buy a pass for a person, and you can use it for any vehicle. Do your research, and pick what is best.

Verify if parking is included with camping. I know in California that parking is included as apart of the cost, which is why it might not be for you if the only time you visit a park is for camping, and the price is already included.

Or you can see if there are discounts for annual pass holders.
For California, there isn’t a discount, and camping is separate.
For Texas, you pay half price for the second night, when you stay two or more consecutive nights in the same campsite or regular screen shelter. 

Where to Buy a Pass
In most places, you can buy it online. You should verify if you can purchase the pass in person. I bought mine at Henry Cowell State Park because I wanted to purchase it on the day I visited and was willing to commit to visiting more state parks and beaches.

Calendar Year or 12-months of Purchase?
Verify with your state, but more than likely it will be valid from 12 months from the day of purchase of month of purchase. Therefore buy it in the beginning of the month if you really want to maximize the value!

I’d highly recommend spending time thinking about this purchase and whether it has value to you, where you live, and your goals.

It is a bigger purchase since it may take visiting a park an average 1-2x a month to make it valuable.

Due to the pandemic, I know this was the best purchase. If I had an expendable budget, I would be giving the gift of nature to friends.

Is this something you would consider for 2021?

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