Purchasing an entrance pass to Acadia National Park has just been made a whole lot easier. The National Park Service has launched a pilot program to sell entrance passes to parks online, starting with Maine’s beloved Acadia, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Acadia visitors can now visit www.yourpassnow.com and purchase annual and seven-day entrance passes prior to their trip.
This program is especially important for Acadia National Park because the park has so many access points. As a result, park visitors often misunderstand the rules and think that purchasing an entrance pass isn’t necessary unless you pass through one of the park’s few entrance stations located on the Park Loop Road. This, however, isn’t the case. All park visitors are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May–October, regardless of whether they pass a park entrance station or visitor center on the way to a trailhead or landmark.
Now that park passes are available online, people have one less excuse to use park facilities, trails and roads without carrying a pass. For a private vehicle, it’s $25 for an entrance pass that’s good for seven days. Motorcycles are $20, and pedestrians and cyclists are $12. And this year, the annual pass is $50.
“I am pleased that the National Park Service will modernize the sale of entrance passes at Acadia by providing visitors with an online option,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins in a press release today about the program. “This will improve convenience for visitors and enhance accessibility to one of our country’s most beloved and visited national parks, while ensuring that entrance fees are captured to support park improvements.”
Last year, Senators Collins and King sent a joint letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, urging them to make national park passes available for purchase over the Internet.
Specifically, the Senators asked Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis to establish a pilot program at Acadia National Park.
Entrance passes purchased online can be printed or stored on a mobile device for use at the park. Park staff will scan the code on the pass in order to validate it.
According to the National Park Service, the pilot program will expand to include Colorado National Monument, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Everglades National Park and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park over the next few months.
Below is the full text of the letter Senators Collins and King wrote to Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis:
April 21, 2015
Dear Secretary Jewell and Director Jarvis:
A few months ago, Senator King asked Secretary Jewell in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing whether National Park passes could be purchased online or through a smart phone application (app). We now write to formally request that the National Park Service (NPS) initiate the process of making it possible to purchase National Park passes online or through an app. Specifically, we urge you to establish a pilot program for the electronic sale of park passes at Acadia National Park, which was recently named “America’s Favorite Place” by viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America.
Today, it is possible to buy almost anything on a smart phone; from home pizza delivery to booking an airline ticket, it can be done on a phone. Millennials – the next generation of park visitors – do just about everything on their phones. Online sales of park passes could help all park visitors to more easily purchase passes to enjoy our National Parks.
Online sales would also allow for infinite customization of passes – a visitor could purchase a pass for any number of people and any number of days. Then, the visitor would be emailed a scannable pass, much like one receives for airline tickets. This pass could be scanned at an entrance station with a ranger standing by to answer questions, hand out maps, and add value to the visitor experience. This could also speed the admission process to our more popular parks.
Agencies often cite a lack of resources for not creating online systems. Yet, we believe that there are cost effective, alternative methods for developing online sales of park passes, such as no-cost contracting, where a vendor develops the system and charges a slight premium for online passes in order to recoup costs, that could be employed by NPS.
The crowning jewel of the park system – Acadia National Park in Maine – could greatly increase its revenue, both for its own use and for the Treasury, by online sales of passes. Acadia is a porous park with many entrances; some visitors to the park do not pay an entry fee, even though they would like to do so. This leaves revenue on the table. A pilot program for the online sale of park passes at Acadia would be a great opportunity for NPS to test a user-friendly electronic system. In our discussions with Acadia park officials and the local chamber of commerce, the idea of online passes has been met very positively.
The centennial anniversary of the National Parks is almost upon us. Let’s start moving the Park System into this new century. We look forward to working with you on this initiative.