Just a few years into our marriage, Cameron and I got the chance to work at the Fort Bowie National Historic Site for two summers. We LOVED it! There was this cute little house on site where we lived, the view was beautiful, and we each loved our job.
I ran the Visitor’s Center and Cameron was on the maintenance crew. Some days were pretty quiet out there as I’d have only 1 visitor the entire day. Others were busy with group after group coming in. With limited internet and cell signal, we spent a lot of time reading, watching movies, watching the bats come out at night, seeing the javelina, and exploring the country.
This experience sparked something in us that I don’t think will ever leave! We gained a love for the National Park Service sites and exploring the amazing places where you live. The big wanderlust bug has not bit us yet, but we have been bit by the local one! We love exploring where we live and learning about our area, and we extend this out to when we’re on road trips to visit family as well. It is so fun to stop at parks along the way!
Just recently we finished our first full year with our America the Beautiful Pass that gets us into all National Parks and other Forest Service and BLM sites for free, and it’s been such an amazing and fun year! We love our America the Beautiful Pass for a number of reasons!
- The savings. I’ll break it down at the end. We paid $80 for our pass and were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get our money’s worth. Boy were we wrong! It was worth every penny and more!!
- Because we had the pass, we didn’t feel like we had to exhaust every park of it’s awesomeness to get our money’s worth. We could pop in, walk around with the kids, visit the Visitor’s Center, and if we (or the kids) got tired we could hop back in the car and be on our way. This was especially nice at the more pricey parks. We spent only 45 minutes in Arches because we didn’t have much time, and I don’t know that it would have been worth $25 for 45 minutes (only 15 of which was us out walking around). But we didn’t have to worry about that!
- Furthermore, it always makes us feel like VIP to pull out our Park Pass and make the entrance stations a breeze. Really I know we’re not, but it feels extra fun!
- It covered places beyond the NPS sites, which was super handy! We rarely carry cash on us so it was so nice to be able to just pull out our pass to park in Sedona, or at picnic/BLM sites!
So want to know the breakdown of what our pass saved us and where we went this past year? Here you go!
- Arches National Park, $25
- Cedar Breaks National Monument, $12 ($6 per adult)
- Marble Canyon/Lee’s Ferry, $25
- MontezumaCastle National Monument, covered with the Tuzigoot entrance fee
- Montezuma’s Well, free entrance
- Sedona (Red Rock Pass) $10 (2 trips out there, $5 per daily pass)
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, $20
- Tonto National Monument, $10 ($5 per adult)
- Tuzigoot National Monument, $20 ($10 per adult)
Of course he’d be picking his nose. Of course.
- White Sands National Monument, $10 ($5 per adult)
- Wupatki National Monument, admission included in Sunset Crater fee
Guys, that’s $301 worth of entrance fee’s that we got for $80!!! That’s nearly 1/4 of the total price (and I may be missing a National Forest site in there)! So just in price alone, it was completely worth it for us!
The pass helped us get out and go see things. We knew we wanted to get as much out of it as we could, so it served as great motivation. I didn’t realize just how much we had seen this past year though! Putting this post together was so much fun as I relived each spot we visited.
We love our America the Beautiful Pass adventures and will definitely be renewing it as we continue to explore where we live!
What National Park is on your bucket list?!