Photo of woman sitting on top of rock overlooking large valley in a park

The Access Pass is a free, lifetime pass available to United States citizens or permanent residents, regardless of age, that have a permanent disability that can be used at over 2,000 Federal recreation sites across the nation, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands.

The Access Pass admits the Pass owner and any passengers traveling with him/her in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or the Pass owner and three additional adults where per-person fees are charged. The Access Pass may also offer a discount on some expanded amenity fees, such as camping. 

Discounts offered by the Pass vary widely across the many different types of recreation sites. Pass owners are encouraged to check with sites they plan to visit before obtaining a pass to verify that their Pass will be accepted. Anytime a Pass is used, photo identification will be requested to verify Pass ownership.

How to Obtain an Access Pass

The pass may be obtained two ways, either at a federal recreation site where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged or through the mail.
To obtain a pass you must have identification to verify that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, which could include:
  • A U.S. State or Territory issued Drivers License, Identification or Birth Certificate; or
  • A U.S. Passport or Passport Card; or
  • A Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).

You must also have documentation that you have a permanent disability, which could include:
A statement signed by a licensed physician attesting that you have a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and stating the nature of the impairment; or
A document issued by a Federal agency, such as the Veteran's Administration, which attests that you have been medically determined to be eligible to receive Federal benefits as a result of blindness or permanent disability; or
Proof of receipt of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI); or a document issued by a State agency such as the Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, which attests that you have been medically determined to be eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation agency benefits or services as a result of medically determined blindness or permanent disability.

Showing a State motor vehicle department disability sticker, license plate or hang-tag is not acceptable documentation.

Obtaining a Pass Through the Mail:

To obtain an Access pass through the mail, you must complete an application, provide a photocopy of proof of citizenship or residency, documentation of disability and pay the processing fee. The cost of obtaining an Access Pass through the mail is ten dollars ($10) for processing the application (the Pass is free).

Obtaining a Pass in Person:

If you apply for an Access Pass at a Federal recreation site you do NOT need to fill out an application. When you arrive at the recreation site, the officer providing the Pass will verify your documentation of disability and that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident by checking your ID. You will then be issued the Pass. The Pass is free if obtained in person, and there is no processing fee. Before making a trip to obtain a Pass, be sure to contact the site to ensure that they have Passes available.

For more information and an Application, please click here.

Reprinted from the May 2013 newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law.