Best National Parks Passport: How to Find the Perfect One For You

Best national parks passport for US national parks

Is visiting every US national park on your bucket list? If so, there’s no better way to document your travels in each park than with a national parks passport.
But what exactly is a national parks passport? I’m so glad you asked… because this post covers everything you need to know!

I’m sharing all the details, including:

  • Exactly what a national park passport is and why you need one
  • The different types of national park passports
  • Where you can buy your passport
  • Plus, how to document your national park adventures in your passport!

Psst… Want to save 15% on your national parks passport? You’ll find an exclusive promo code and lots more in the ‘Where to Buy’ section below!

Best national park passport recommendations Pinterest Pin
Best national park passport recommendations Pinterest Pin

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Looking for places to use your national park passport? Check out these park guides!

Or check out the best things to do in all 63 national parks!

About the National Park Passport Book

You’re familiar with regular old passports, right? You know, the ones that collect stamps from all the countries you visit (and also admit you to countries, but that’s irrelevant here). Well, the Passport to Your National Parks Program has spun up a similar idea.

A national parks passport is a small booklet that has pages to place stamps and stickers from each national park. Unlike a regular international passport though, it’s not used for entry to the park. Your national parks passport simply helps you document your travels!

The program was started back in 1986 to encourage national park visitation. Today, it’s run by a non-profit called America’s National Parks. Each year, they donate proceeds to support the National Park Service, donating nearly $170 million since they were founded.

America’s National Parks sells passports that collect cancellation stamps from each park. Most parks take part in the program, allowing visitors to stamp their passports at the visitor center.

So how can you participate?

  1. Buy a national park passport
  2. Visit a national park and head to the visitor center
  3. Stamp your passport for free at the station in the visitor center
  4. Rinse and repeat!

What is a cancellation stamp?

A cancellation is a marking that is applied on top of a stamp by the postal service to signify that a stamp has been used and is no longer valid. You’ll see these on any piece of mail you receive with a classic stamp.

Similar in concept, the national park passport stamps are cancellation stamps. They are small, round, ink-based stamps. At each national park visitor center (and some ranger stations), you’ll find a station with the stamping devices and ink pads.

Why You Should Get a National Park Passport

A national park passport is the perfect way to document national park adventures. I’ve had mine for years now and take it with me on every trip. Need a bit more convincing on why you should get one?

  • National Parks Passports are compact. These booklets fit in carry-ons or hiking backpacks, making them easy to bring along on every trip.
  • Stamps for your passport are free. This makes for a great low-cost and budget-friendly souvenir that you can use for years to come.
  • Collecting passport stamps is eco-friendly and minimalist. By using one passport book to collect souvenirs for dozens of parks, you’re able to reduce your consumption of other souvenirs. In turn, this decreases clutter around the house and keeps more goods out of landfills each year.
  • Parks offer special stamps. For special occasions, anniversaries, or historical events, parks will offer limited edition stamps. This is the perfect way to remember your special trip.

Where to Buy National Parks Passports

National Park Passports are sold through the America’s National Parks online store or at National Park stores at the visitor center.

I highly recommend buying your national park passport in advance from America’s National Parks instead of waiting to buy it at the park. Sometimes the visitor centers are out of stock or only have certain editions. Forget the hassle and just get yours online before your trip!

Want to save 15% on your national park passport? Head on over to America’s National Parks store and use the code 15OFF at checkout.

The Different Types of National Park Passports

So now that I’ve convinced you to get a national park passport before your next trip, it’s time to figure out the right one for you!

The non-profit America’s National Parks sells 4 types of national parks passport. The right one for you will depend on how you want to use the passport. Keep reading for pros and cons of each and where to buy one.

Passport To Your National Parks Classic Edition

This is the original national park passport. In the 6”x4” classic edition passport, you’ll find 112 color-coded pages sorted by national park region. In addition to spots for stamps, there’s a national park map and information about the parks. For only $10, this is the best bang for your buck when it comes to national parks passports.

Classic Edition National Parks Passport
Inside of Classic Edition National Parks Passport
  • Pros: Smallest of the passports making it easy to pack, Spiral Bound makes it durable and easier to add pages
  • Cons: The 112 pages aren’t enough to get stamps all 400+ national park units, so you’ll need to add expander pack pages (only $5)

Passport To Your National Parks Collector’s Edition

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive national parks passport that will last you for years to come, the Collector’s edition is for you! This edition has a dedicated spot for the more than 400 national park sites (including monuments and historic sites). It’s a bit pricier at $25, but is perfect if you want to commit to collecting national park passport stamps.

Collector's Edition National Park Passport
Inside of National Park Passport Collector's Edition
  • Pros: Dedicated space for each park’s stamp, More detailed information on each park
  • Cons: A bit bigger so it will take up more space in a hiking backpack, It won’t have space for park’s that are added to the National Park Service over time

Passport To Your National Parks Explorer Edition

For the ultimate national park passport experience, the Explorer edition is the way to go. The Explorer edition is the highest-end of the passports offered by America’s National Parks. This passport fits into a 5-ring binder, complete with durable, zip-up, weatherproof case. Besides stamps, you can keep other small national park collectibles, like stickers and photos, in your case too!

National Park Passport Explorer Edition
Inside of National Parks Passport Explorer Edition
  • Pros: Durable thanks to its weatherproof case, Has space for all 400+ national park stamps
  • Cons: Bulky and difficult to carry in a hiking backpack at 9”x8.5”, Significantly more expensive than the other passports at $60

Passport To Your National Parks Junior Ranger Edition

Don’t leave the kids out of the national park passport fun! America’s National Parks also makes a Junior Ranger Edition! This edition is made with kids in mind, including plenty of illustrations and a set of stickers to decorate. Like the Classic Edition, this book is sorted by region with 100 pages to fill in national park stamps.

Junior Ranger National Parks Passport
  • Pros: Makes the kids feel special with their own style of passport, Includes educational content just for kids
  • Cons: Kids may outgrow it, Not enough room for all 400+ national park units

Accessories for Your National Parks Passport

Now that you know all about the passports, I have to let you know about the accessories and add-ons! While these aren’t necessary for occasional stamp collectors, you’ll may need to upgrade your passport as you collect more stamps.

Expander Packs for the Classic Edition Passport

If you have the Classic Edition passport, you may run out of pages if you frequently visit national park sites. But don’t worry, you can buy expander packs! The expander pages for the Classic Edition only cost $5 and give you 20 extra pages to fill with stamps.

Classic Edition National Park Passport Expander Pack

Collector’s Edition Stamp Sets

Want to become a devoted national park enthusiast? Each year, the park system releases limited edition stamps to place in your booklet. This is the only place you’ll find these unique collectors items! These Collector’s stamp sets pair perfect with the Collector’s Edition passport and make a phenomenal gift for any national park lover.

How to Find National Park Passport Locations

Most national parks participate in the Passport to Your National Parks program. That said, you can confirm that the park you’re visiting is a participant in advance.
The best way to identify participating parks is by visiting America’s National Parks Passport Location Listings.

Want to save 15% on your national park passport? Head on over to America’s National Parks store and use the code 15OFF at checkout.

Where to Find National Parks Passport Stamps

Once you’ve secured your national park passport, it’s time to put it to use! Here’s how to find and collect stamps for your national park passport:

  1. Research participating parks ahead of time so you can be sure to pack your passport for your trip.
  2. Locate the visitor center in the national park.
  3. Find the cancellation stamp station in the visitor center.
  4. Open your passport to the section or page for that park.
  5. Double check that the stamp(s) you want to use are set to the correct date before pressing into the ink pad.
  6. Stamp your passport! Be sure the stamp is placed right side up (I have a few upside down ones… oops!).

If you forget to pack your passport, you can place the stamp on a piece of paper available at the cancellation stamp station. When you get home, just tape it into your passport instead!

Frequently Asked Questions About National Park Stamps & Passports

How much is a national park passport?

National Park Passports range in price from $10 to $60, depending on the edition. For beginners or budget travelers, the Classic Edition national park passport is the perfect pick at only $10.

How do I get a national park passport stamp?

National Park passport stamps are found at most national park visitor centers. To get your stamp, locate the station in the visitor center, bring your passport, check that the date on the stamp is correct, and stamp away!

How many national park stamps are there?

There are typically 2 to 4 national park stamps available at visitor centers, including a junior ranger stamp. Each year, a set of 10 limited edition stamps are available for purchase online.

Alternatives to National Park Passport Books

If you want to document your journey to visit every national park, but don’t want a passport, consider these alternatives.

National Park Journal

Rather than a passport, you can use a journal to document your national park adventures. You can get a national-park specific journal like this one or simply use your own diary.

National Park Scratch Off Map

Want to display your national park adventures for friends and family to see? A national park scratch off map is the perfect way to do that!

USA National Park Scratch Off Maps over Utah and Colorado

I love documenting my travels with my own scratch off map, so much so that I wrote an entire post on it. You can read my full post of the best scratch off national park maps here.

Read More: 7 Best National Park Scratch Off Maps

Other Ways to Document National Park Trips

Want more souvenirs than stamps? There’s more you can collect! These are some of my favorite ways to document my national park trips.

  • Brochures
    The free park map and brochure given to you at the entrance station is the perfect zero-cost park memory. It documents the season and year and serves as a reminder what the park was like at that moment. I keep mine in a memory box at home.
  • Magnets
    For a compact, but fun way to document your trip, collect magnets! I buy a magnet at the visitor center for every park I visit. They are inexpensive, small, and beautifully designed, perfect for displaying on your fridge!
  • Patches
    These are the perfect alternative for magnets. I have a few patches from various national parks and keep them in my memory box along with my brochures. I’ve also seen plenty of national park patch crafts on Pinterest!
  • Stickers
    You can even buy national park passport stickers at the visitor center to put into your passport along with your stamps!

Want to save 15% on your national park passport? Head on over to America’s National Parks store and use the code 15OFF at checkout.

Final Thoughts on Finding Your Perfect National Parks Passport

You have 4 options for picking the perfect passport:

  1. Passport to Your National Parks Classic Edition
  2. Passport to Your National Parks Collector’s Edition
  3. Passport to Your National Parks Explorer Edition
  4. Passport to Your National Parks Junior Ranger Edition

For beginners or budget travelers, I recommend the Classic Edition.

If you want dedicated space for each national park unit (including monuments and historic sites), go with the Collector’s Edition.

Looking for places to use your national park passport? Check out these park guides!

Or check out the best things to do in all 63 national parks!

Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or brands that I use. Any income helps me continue sharing national park tips and itineraries for free.

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