Arizona Outdoor Adventures on a Budget: A Guide to the America the Beautiful Pass


If you’re like me, always on the lookout for budget-friendly ways to create family memories, then I’ve got an ace up your sleeve – the America the Beautiful Pass. 

Today we’re delving into the secrets of this pass and how it can be your passport to saving big on outdoor adventures. 

From national parks to local lake sites, get ready to explore nature’s wonders without breaking the bank as temperatures heat up. 

Let’s dive into the details and discover how the America the Beautiful Pass can elevate your family’s outdoor experiences without denting your budget. Time to make the most of what our beautiful country has to offer!



Arizona Outdoor Adventures on a Budget: A Guide to the America the Beautiful PassWhat is the America the Beautiful pass?

Arizona Outdoor Adventures on a Budget: A Guide to the America the Beautiful PassThe America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. 

A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for the passholder and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.

It’s $80 and good for a year after purchase. You can get it online, or locally at the Arizona Game & Fish offices. 

The best part about this pass is there are no blackout dates, so while other budget hunters may all get free admission on the six free entrance days open to the public each year, America the Beautiful pass holders won’t have to go on busy free days. 

Every 4th grader can get a free parks pass

Fourth graders and their families can visit national parks for free as part of Every Kid Outdoors, a government program that gives children and their families access to the great outdoors.

Where in Arizona is the America the Beautiful pass good for? 

Arizona Outdoor Adventures on a Budget: A Guide to the America the Beautiful PassThere are 12 national parks in Arizona the pass is good at, including the Grand Canyon ($35/vehicle entrance fee), Saguaro National Park ($25/vehicle entrance fee) and more. 

Plus, the pass is good for day passes at federal recreation sites in Arizona, like Tonto National Forest Salt River picnicking destinations, for paddleboarding, water play, etc. (versus Tonto park day passes that are $8/vehicle). 

We use the pass the most for Butcher Jones, Coons Bluff and Sheep Crossing picnic areas at Salt River, plus we used it at the Grand Canyon. 

I got the pass at the beginning of last summer and it’s already paid for itself with these outlines:

  • Grand Canyon: two day $70 ($35/day)
  • Salt River picnic areas: four visits: $32 ($8/day)
  • I am also planning a few more trips to the Salt River before my pass expires in June, plus a trip to Saguaro National Park

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

If you aren’t ready to invest in a pass, note these free admission days for 2024. Details on this program can be found here.

  • Monday, January 15 — Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Saturday, April 20 — First Day of National Park Week
  • Wednesday, June 19 — Juneteenth National Independence Day
  • Sunday, August 4 — Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • Saturday, September 28 — National Public Lands Day
  • Monday, November 11 — Veterans Day


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