National Park Access for Autism

National Park Access Pass for Autism

Explore our great national parks with the Acces Pass


America the Beautiful Access Pass

What if I told you that there was a national park access pass for those with autism?

This little secret was hidden from me for the longest time. Ten years passed from first diagnosis until we actually discovered this.  I lament the fact that if I had known about it sooner we would have taken advantage of all of the benefits that come with this Access Pass.

We would have traveled and explored the country way more than we did!

Of course, most agencies, hospitals, and schools that provide that initial diagnosis are not going to tell you about every single resource helpful for every stage of life. They may provide you a “what now?” book from an autism organization. Then you get sent on your merry way to navigate the massively complicated autistic world for yourself.

Good luck, matey!

I honestly can’t pinpoint the exact moment I found out the Access Pass.  I’m pretty sure that it came from a Medicaid waiver agency representative who mentioned it nonchalantly in conversation.  But I do distinctly remember my mind being blown.

Well, let me guide you to some clarity about this incredible governmental benefit.  See for yourself what a wonderful gift this can be for autistic individuals and their families.

If you want to witness the grandest places in America, like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or the Smoky Mountains (for FREE!)—as well as receive deep discounts on camping and other recreational activities—apply for the America the Beautiful-National Parks & Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass today!


Stand in awe of the Grand Canyon using the Access Pass


About the National Parks Access Pass for Autism and Other Special Needs

What can you do with the Access Pass?  You can gain entrance into any associated federal recreation program for FREE that accepts it. This includes:

  • National Park Service (includes all national parks, national historic sites and others)
  • US Forest Service (includes national forests that have camping, hiking, horseman’s camps and lakes)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (outdoor recreation plus historical and archaeological sites)
  • Bureaus of Land Management (hunting, fishing and game shooting)
  • Bureau of Reclamation (mostly water recreation in the Western states)
  • US Corp of Engineers (many manage reservoirs)

What other benefits are provided by this Access Pass?  You can get deep discounts on certain recreational activities, such as camping (50% discount), guided tours, and others such as boat launches.

Who can apply?  Anyone with a permanent developmental disability. This includes those with autism-related diagnosis well as any other cognitive-sensory disorder. Any age can get the pass.

How do you apply?  You need documentation of a diagnosis. They accept government-related documents, like proof of having the Medicaid waiver, but a doctor’s note should also do.

Where do you apply?  You can apply through the USPS mail service by downloading this paper application or you can visit a local office that is listed as a participating federal recreation site.

How long is it good for? It is good for one’s entire lifetime.

How much is it?  It’s free if you visit one of the federal offices; it’s $10 if you apply via mail.

What happens if I lose the card?  Simply reapply for another one.

How do I find a good place for our family to visit?  If you already know what type of setting or activities you’d like to do, you can explore the index page of the National Park Service. In Indiana we have the Indiana Dunes National Park near Chicago and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial near the Ohio River in the south.

Accessing Recreational Opportunities

To access recreational opportunities at your favorite destinations, go to to reserve camping, guided tours, and more. The site also includes a trip planner. So if you know the dates you want to travel and where you want to visit, it can give you several accommodation options.  Once you have received your Access Pass, you can enter the ID number when you make reservation for the discount.

OR…if you not quite sure where and when you would like to travel, you can do some website exploration on the National Park Service site to see what ideas pop out for you.

Let’s say you and your family are really into early American history and have been studying the famous Clark family.  Here is a trip scenario based on two very important figures during and after the Revolutionary War:

  • George Rogers Clark led an expedition across icy waters to force the British to surrender their fort at present-day Vincennes, thus capturing the entire Northwest Territory for the new American government in 1779.  His memorial is a National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana


  • Perhaps a little more famous is his brother, William Clark.  Along with Merriweather Lewis and Sacagawea, he explored the lands west of the Mississippi River from 1804-1806.  The Lewis & Clark Full Day Pacific Coast Trip includes seeing the lands their expedition saw over 200 years ago. With driving and self-guided walking tours, you can see history and nature come alive on the Lewis & Clark Historical Park and Trail.


The possibilities are endless!  The National Park Access Pass for autism and other special needs makes it very affordable for families to have short getaways or longer vacations in some of the most stunning places on earth.


Dream Away!

Do you ever dream about taking your family to see the Grand Canyon?  Or hiking through a Sequoia forest?  Or camping in the Great Smoky Mountains?

With the Access Pass to national parks, there is no excuse for those with autism and other special needs NOT to travel!

So, start creating your “bucket list” of places you always dreamed about to begin your next adventure!