America The Beautiful: U.S. Military Pass

The ATB Pass is an interagency pass which grants the pass-holder access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, national forests, and national monuments, at which entrance fees and/or standard amenity fees are charged. 

The “America the Beautiful Pass” is what is formally known as the “America the Beautiful, the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.” It is often called the “ATB Pass” for short.

When was the ATB Pass established?

The ATB Pass was established by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) of 2004. The REA permits the federal government to charge a fee for the recreational use of public lands managed by each of the following agencies:

  1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  2. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)
  3. National Park Service (NPS)
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  5. U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
  6. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Although the federal government has been charging recreation fees since 1906, the REA was enacted in part to address concerns about how the revenue generated by those fees was being spent. Under the REA, at least 80% of the fees collected at any particular site must be devoted to expenditures at that site related to repair, maintenance, and facility enhancement; visitor access; visitor enjoyment; visitor information; visitor health and safety; interpretive signs; recreation-related habitat restoration; recreation-related law enforcement; and direct operating and capital costs. No more than 15% of the fees collected at any particular site may be devoted to expenditures at that site related to administration, overhead, and indirect costs.

What does the ATB Pass cover?

The ATB Pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The ATB Pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle containing the pass-holder at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults, depending upon which pass is presented, at sites that charge per person).

Children 15 years and younger are always admitted for free.

What does the ATB Pass not cover?

The ATB Pass generally does not cover fees charged by private concessionaires who manage their own facilities and activities (e.g., hotels, campgrounds, parking lots, food stands, boat launches, and guided tours) within participating federal recreation areas under a permit or contract.

It also does not cover entrance fees at select sites managed by federal recreational agencies that do not participate in the program.

The ATB Pass is valid at federal recreation areas only. It is not valid at Arizona State Parks.

Are there different kinds of ATB Pass?

Yes. The ATB Pass is in fact a “suite” or “family” of different passes:

  1. Annual Pass
  2. Annual Senior Pass
  3. Lifetime Senior Pass
  4. Access Pass (Lifetime)
  5. U.S. Military Pass (Annual)
  6. Fourth Grade Pass (Annual)
  7. Volunteer Pass (Annual)

 U.S. Military Pass

Who qualifies for a U.S. Military Pass?

Current U.S. Military personnel (including current members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard), the dependents of current U.S. Military personnel, U.S. Military Cadets, and U.S. Active Reservists may obtain a U.S. Military Pass.

A U.S. Military Pass must be obtained in person by presenting a U.S. Department of Defense CAC identification or DD Form 1173 dependent identification.

What does a U.S. Military Pass cover?

A U.S. Military Pass covers entrance fees and standard amenity fees. Standard amenity fees are charged for the use of sites that have basic amenities such as picnic tables, trash receptacles, toilets, developed parking, interpretive signing, and security.

A U.S. Military Pass does not cover expanded amenity fees. Expanded amenity fees are charged for the use of “extras” such as camp grounds.

Does it cost anything to obtain a U.S. Military Pass?

No. A U.S. Military Pass is free.

When does a U.S. Military Pass expire?

A U.S. Military Pass is valid for 12 months from the month it was issued and expires on the last day of that month.

How many people may sign a U.S. Military Pass?

Up to two people may sign a U.S. Military Pass and therefore be the pass-holders. Both must be current U.S. Military members or dependents.

Sources and further reading

National Park Service – “Plan Your Visit: America the Beautiful Passes”:

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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