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A Guide to California State Park Passes

A Guide to California State Park Passes

Many cost-effective passes are available for those interested in visiting beautiful California State Parks. Team


2 min read

June 28, 2023

For the nature enthusiasts that are always visiting the amazing state parks in California, you might not know about the California State Park Passes program and how they can help you save on costs. These passes not only offer cost-effective access to the state’s fantastic scenic wonders, but they can also make a good gift for particularly outdoorsy friends and family.

New Pilot Programs

In an exciting development, two new pilot programs have been introduced. The California State Parks Adventure Pass, at no cost to the user, opens up the state's natural beauty to fourth graders and their families at 19 select state parks. On the other hand, the California State Parks Library Pass is an innovative collaboration between State Parks and California State Libraries. Public libraries in the state will carry passes that patrons can borrow for free vehicle day-use access to parks across the state.

Annual Passes

Annual passes have been designed with the adventurer in mind. The California Explorer Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass at $195 provides year-long vehicle entrance to 134 state parks, inclusive of the coveted southern beaches in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties. The Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass, priced at $125, is valid for one year and covers vehicle entrance to 112 state parks, including popular destinations in northern California.

If history fascinates you, the Historian Passport Day Use Admission Annual Pass at $50 lets you and three others visit state historic parks. Adventure junkies can opt for the OHV Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass at $50, which grants access to designated off-highway vehicle trails. If you're planning to explore Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Annual Pass at $75 is a must-have, granting access to five major parks in the region. Add-on passes for boat use and oversized vehicles are also available for $100 and $75 respectively.

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Snow Adventure and Discount Passes

For snow enthusiasts, the SNO-Park Pass provides access to 21 winter recreation areas at $40 for the season or $15 for a day.

Discount passes cater to various demographics. The Disabled Discount Pass offers a lifetime 50% discount on day-use, camping, and boating fees for individuals with permanent disabilities. The Distinguished Veteran Pass offers a lifetime of free access to all basic facilities for distinguished veterans and Medal of Honor recipients. The Golden Bear Pass and the Limited Use Golden Bear Pass provide free or discounted access to many parks for those on limited incomes or aged 62 and above.

The variety of these passes ensures that everyone, regardless of age, income, or interests, can find a pass that suits them. It's worth mentioning that lost or damaged passes can be replaced only through reapplication, and no refunds can be issued.

So gear up, choose your pass, and embark on a memorable journey through California's state parks. Experience the state’s iconic landscapes in an affordable, accessible way that suits your needs and interests best. Whether you're an avid hiker, a history enthusiast, or just someone who loves to sit back and enjoy the view, California's State Parks welcome you.

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