I used to get really stressed out about the logistics of travelling, especially when I was rushing after work and had no time to figure out or make preparations and drove up into an area I was not familiar with and unsure where to lay my head that night. The other thing that becomes stressful is how expensive bouncing around National Parks can be. State parks have the same issues and you can almost guarantee having to pay for parking in those places.
I could only dodge the fees for so long, and eventually after a long day in Yosemite we got caught at the tollbooth leaving the park on our way to Sequoia. The trip was over so just paid the day fee–after all it was only $30. I still had to get back to San Diego that night, so I was speeding to Sequoia and arrived at the Sequoia tollbooth five minutes before they closed. I showed the attendant my Yosemite day pass and she just shrugged and said, “This ain’t Yosemite, hun.” Then I pleaded that I was just dropping my climbing partner off, and the attendant just shrugged, “$30 please.”
I paid $60 on park entrance fees in a matter of four hours. Later that year I found myself driving into Joshua Tree National Park during tollbooth hours, and decided to just pay $80 for the National Parks Pass (also known as America the Beautiful Pass). Because I was able to enter the park for free at will, over the next five days I camped on the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) for free saving even more money!
On my way back I stopped in Idyllwild to climb on Tahquitz and the sign informed me that the Interagency Pass (National Park/America the Beautiful) is accepted.
Just this weekend I pulled into the Marion Mountain Campground in Idyllwild which was supposed to be $10 a night + $2.50 for an extra vehicle fee, and on the billboard it informed that fees are half off for Interagency Pass holders. For a single vehicle that’s $5 a night! I’m not a big fan of paying for camping, but sometimes the fee is worth more than slogging on some rutting high clearance dirt road for thirty minutes to an hour.
Recall in this blog post when me and Dave pulled into Tahoe to find the same exact situation. A nice maintained campground that was five minutes away from the crag. It was allegedly $10 a night, but upon reading the board I found all fees are 50% off with an Interagency Pass. $20 to camp at the base of Lovers Leap in Lake Tahoe for a week was worth every penny!
While I was travelling through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada this Summer my mind was constantly soothed knowing that I had this magical golden ticket in my wallet. Just park and display–it’s really that easy.
I’ve found most State Parks also accept this pass, hence Interagency Pass. More waived fees. Have you ever had to scramble the day or night before a big hike trying to locate a permit because you’ll be entering the park before you can purchase one from the rangers? You won’t have that problem with the Interagency Pass.
I spend a lot of time on the road, and the Interagency Pass has become one of my best travelling investments–second only to the car. If you don’t have one, you should seriously consider getting one. The easiest way to do this cost benefit analysis is to ask yourself if you’ll enter a National Parks at least three times a year. If the answer is yes you’ve already saved $10, so what are you waiting for?