Annual Passes - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

2022 Pass Program FAQ

What Annual and Discount Passes are available for 2022?

As a result of the positive feedback State Parks received from visitors last year, the 2022 Annual Pass Program (expiration 2023) is offering the same passes provided last year, plus free park passes.  

The annual and discount passes available in 2022 include:

  • New! California State Park Adventure Pass (free): This new pass provides free entry for fourth graders and their families at 19 select state parks throughout the state.

  • Revamped! Golden Bear Pass (free): Provides free vehicle day-use access to over 200 parks to Californians with limited incomes (CalWORKs recipients, SSI recipients, and those whose incomes fall under a certain threshold).

  • New! California State Parks Library Pass (free): [Program will launch in April 2022.] A new pilot collaboration between State Parks and California State Libraries will provide free passes to every public library throughout the state. Library patrons can check these out and use them for free vehicle day-use access to parks across the state. 

  • California Explorer Annual Pass ($195): Valid for vehicle entrance to 134 state parks, including the high demand Southern California beaches along the Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Coasts.
  • Golden Poppy" Annual Pass ($125): This popular pass is back. The pass provides vehicle entrance to 112 state parks including most reservoirs and many popular destination parks and northern California beaches.

  • Historian Passport ($50): Allows admission to up to four people to State Historic Parks that generally charge a per-person admission fee. Some of the sites pass holders can tour include a California mission, see where the gold rush happened and experience Native American culture.

  • Tahoe Regional Annual Pass ($75): Visitors can use this pass to visit Lake Tahoe State Parks such as D.L. Bliss SP, Ed Z'Berg Sugar Pine Point SP, Emerald Bay SP and Kings Beach SRA, and even includes Donner Memorial SP.

  • Boat Use Annual Pass ($100): An add-on pass for passholders of other State Parks passes to cover the fee charged for boat use.

  • Disabled Discount Pass ($3.50): A pass forindividualswith permanent disabilities, entitling them to a 50% discount on vehicle day-use, family camping, and boat-use fees.

  • Limited Use Golden Bear Pass ($20): A pass for individuals 62 years or older that provides the passhoulder and their spouse/domestic partner with free entry to many state parks during non-peak season.

  • Distinguished Veterans Pass (free): A pass for distinguished war veterans  that entitles the passholder to use of all basic facilities (day-use, camping, and boating) in state parks for free.

  • OHV Vehicle Day Use Pass ($50): Provides entry to State Vehicular Recreation Areas (i.e. off-highway vehicle designated trails and/or open space areas) where day-use fees are collected for passenger vehicles with a capacity of nine people or less.

  • Oversized Vehicle Pass ($75): An add-on pass for passholders of other State Parks passes to cover the fee charged for vehicles 25+ feet in length or 9+ feet in width.

  •  Sno-Park Season/Day Permits ($25/$5): Provides accessto 21 SNO-PARK winter recreation areas either for a day or for the season.

For complete details about these passes and relevant terms and conditions, please visit parks.ca.gov/Passes.

Where are the 2022 Annual Passes available for purchase?

Annual passes are available for purchase via our online store and in-person at many locations throughout the State Parks System. They are also available for purchase at most District and Sector offices and many park units. Please call ahead for availability at the in-person locations.

Discount passes require an application and may be applied for online, by mail, or in person.

For questions or more information, please contact the Park Pass Sales Office via email at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov.

What is the difference between a county park, state park, and a national park? Why do they all have different passes?

California is home to some of the most amazing natural and cultural landscapes in the nation. There are a wide variety of different parks operated by various agencies. Simply, county parks are operated by local counties, state parks by the state of California, and national parks by the federal government. Each agency has their own pass program since policies, guidelines and operations are unique.

Is there a pass that covers all of the county, state and national parks?

Unfortunately, there is no pass that covers all of the parks in California. 

Does State Parks charge a per person entrance fee at its parks in addition to the vehicle day use fees?

State Parks does not charge an additional per person entrance fee for its parks that charge a vehicle day use fee. However, this does not apply to any museums that charge per person admission fees or private events that may be held at the state parks. 

Do I have to pay a fee if I walk or ride my bicycle into a state park that charges a vehicle day use fee?

No, there are no fees associated with walking or biking into a state park. 

Why isn’t my annual or discount pass accepted at locally operated state parks?

Although state parks operates a majority of its state parks, there are selected state parks that are operated by a third party. State parks operated by a third party have the discretion to accept or not accept discounted and annual passes. Click here to view the list of parks that do not accept annual passes.

Do annual passes cover boat launching fees?

No, but boat users can purchase a boat sticker to affix to their pass to cover boat launching fees. The boat sticker is $100 for each vessel.

Do I need a boat sticker for my kayak or any other non-motorized vessel to boat within the State Park System?

A boat sticker is not needed for non-motorized or motorized watercraft less than 8ft in length.

Any special rules for oversized vehicles, such as an RV?

Yes. In the high-demand units of southern California, State Parks must charge fees according to the space you occupy. If your recreational vehicle occupies two spaces, the department offers an oversized vehicle sticker for an additional $75.

This fee is designed to recover revenue lost when an oversized vehicle uses more than one space that could have been filled by an additional paying vehicle. The fee will also deter large vehicle owners from expanding their recreational vehicles (RV) in a parking area, limiting space for other paying visitors. If the vehicle’s traveling length and width extend beyond two spaces, additional stickers may be purchased to cover the number of spaces occupied by the vehicle. Additional stickers cannot be purchased to accommodate a vehicle’s extended size. Stickers may only be used to cover the traveling size. Extending a shade canopy or additional equipment into adjoining spaces beyond traveling size will require a day use fee for each additional space used.

How do I show proof of having an annual or discounted pass if there are only self-pay kiosks (iron rangers or automated parking machines) present?

Please see the breakdown below:

  • Annual Passes: Clearly display the pass on your vehicle’s dashboard where it is visible through the windshield. 
  • Discounted Passes: Clearly display the pass and self payment receipt [if applicable] on your vehicle’s dashboard where it is visible through the windshield.
  • Adventure Passes: Clearly display the printed PDF of your pass on your vehicle’s dashboard.

I have an annual or discounted pass, how do I show I have a valid pass if I am parking my motorcycle in a state park?

If there is an open kiosk at the park, please see a staff member and show them your annual or discounted pass. They will be able to print you a day use receipt that you can attach to your motorcycle. If there are only self pay stations, please fill out one of the self pay envelopes and include your pass information on the envelope. Place the envelope in the iron ranger and attached the receipt to your motorcycle. Always bring your pass with you and have it ready if asked to present it. 

Does State Parks donate annual passes to qualifying nonprofits/fundraisers?

Unfortunately, as a state agency we are unable to assist with this type of request because the donation of passes can be considered a gifting of state funds.

How do I reserve a campsite at a state park?

Please visit the ReserveCalifornia.com to reserve a camping reservation.

Where can I use my State Parks Pass?

This will depend on the type of pass you have. Please check the terms and conditions page for your pass to find out where the pass can be used. The Annual Passes Fact Sheet has links to each pass type. 

Does State Parks offer annual camping passes?

No, State Parks does not offer an annual camping pass. All camping reservations can be made online at ReserveCalifornia.com.

When does my annual pass expire?

Hangtag passes such as the California Explorer or Tahoe Regional are valid for 12 months from the month of purchase. For example, if you purchase a pass in January 2022, the pass will be valid until the last day of January 2023. 

The California State Park Adventure Pass is valid from September through August of the student’s fourth-grade year. Other passes such as the Distinguished Veteran Pass or Disabled Discount Pass are lifetime passes but require periodic renewal. Please review the terms and conditions for each pass for complete details.

How do I purchase an annual pass as a gift?

Annual passes can be purchased as gifts online or in person at our designated pass sales locations. Since annual passes are not tied to an individual, passes can be purchased and then gifted. A full list is available online at parks.ca.gov/Passes and via the Online Park Pass Store (store.parks.ca.gov).

Who can I contact if I purchased an annual pass online and have not received it?

Please contact the State Parks Online Store at (866) 417-2757 or email the Park Pass Office at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov.

Do you offer discounts for active military, first responders, or state employees?

At this time we do not offer discounts on annual or discount passes for active military, first responders, or state employees. Distinguished veterans may apply for the Distinguished Veteran Pass, however.

My annual pass was lost/stolen, how do I receive a replacement?

At this time, departmental policy is that any lost/stolen pass must be repurchased. 

The park that I utilize my annual pass at is temporarily closed. Can I receive a refund for my pass?

Current departmental policy is that annual passes are not refundable due to “loss, theft or environmental conditions such as low water levels, fire, park closures or inclement weather.” For more information please see our Terms & Conditions for your specific pass.

I purchased the wrong annual pass, am I able to upgrade my pass?

Yes, annual pass upgrades are available. Please contact the Park Pass Office for more information at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov. All annual pass upgrades can only be completed at a Park Pass Office. For a list of office locations, click here.  

Can I apply for a discounted pass online?

Yes! As of 2022, you can apply for the Disabled Discount Passes, Limited Use Golden Bear Passes, Golden Bear Passes, and Distinguished Veteran Passes online at ReserveCalifornia.com.

For the Golden Bear Pass - As of 2022, California State Parks and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) are collaborating on a pilot program to reduce the administrative burden on families to verify eligibility for the pass. As part of this pilot, CDSS will directly notify approximately 300,000 families receiving CalWORKs about their eligibility for the program. 

That means that eligible Californians who receive notice from CDSS that they qualify for the Golden Bear Pass do not have to apply. For more information on the CDSS program, please visit cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/golden-bear-pass.

Note: Those who qualify for this pass through SSI or proof of income will still need to apply; however, DPR hopes to expand this pilot program to other qualified visitors in the months to come.

Where can I apply for a Discounted Pass in person?

Disabled Discount Passes, Limited Use Golden Bear Passes and Golden Bear passes can be submitted in person at designated pass locationsclick here to view the list. Distinguished Veteran Passes are only issued in person at the Park Pass Office via mail to:

California State Parks
ATTN: Park Pass Office
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 95825-0001 

Can I apply for a Discounted Pass by mail?

Yes, please mail all Disabled Discount, Distinguished Veteran, Limited Use Golden Bear and Golden Bear Applications to:

CA State Parks
ATTN: Park Pass Office
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296- 0001

Forms for these passes can be found online at parks.ca.gov/Passes.

I mailed my Discounted Pass application, how long until I receive my pass?

Please see the breakdown below on the turn around time to receive the passes:

  • Distinguished Veteran and Disabled Discount Passes: 8–10 weeks.
  • Limited Use Golden Bear and Golden Bear Passes: 4–6 weeks. Note: CalWORKs recipients who are receiving their pass through our collaboration with the California Department of Social Services can anticipate receiving their pass more quickly.

Please keep in mind that pass turn around times can be faster depending on our application seasons. For quickest service, please consider applying online. For the online links, please visit parks.ca.gov/Passes.

Do I have to renew my lifetime Disabled Discount Pass or Distinguished Veteran Pass?

New! As of 2022, the validity of these passes is being extended by five years. Current pass holders should retain their pass. The pass will be renewed within the Reserve California System without the need for pass replacement. It is important for the pass holder to notify the Park Pass Sales Office -- ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov -- of any change of name, address, e-mail address, or telephone number to ensure that their account is up-to-date for proper reservation making.

I just moved, how do I update my address for my Disabled Discount Pass or Distinguished Veteran Pass?

Please email ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov to request a Change of Address Form. Once you submit the completed form to the Park Pass Office, the department can update your contact information.

I recently had a name change. How do I update my name on my Discounted Pass?

Please contact the Park Pass Sales Office via email at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov to request a Name Change Form. 

I qualify for the Disabled Discount Pass and the Distinguished Veteran Pass, can I apply for both passes?

Disabled Discount Passes and Distinguished Veteran Passes are both lifetime passes. At this time, a passholder can only hold one lifetime pass at a time. 

Note: Even though the passes are lifetime passes, they have to be renewed every ten years to ensure that State Parks has the correct contact information for each passholder.

New! As of 2022, the pass will be renewed within the Reserve California System without the need for pass replacement. It is important for the pass holder to keep their profile up-to-date with correct name, address, and contact information. Patrons can make changes online at ReserveCalifornia or by contacting the Park Pass Sales Office.

How do I receive my discount for camping if I have a Disabled Discount Pass or a Distinguished Veteran Pass?

If you have the updated credit card styled pass, your profile on ReserveCalifornia.com has already been created for you. Just make sure to use the email you provided on your application as your username. If you have not set a password please click the “Reset Password” button and a temporary password will be e-mailed to you. Once you log in you will receive the discount automatically when checking out. If you do not see the discount automatically being applied, please email the Park Pass Office at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov. 

I am not a resident of California, can I qualify for a discounted pass?

The Disabled Discount Pass, Golden Bear and Limited Use Golden Bear Passes do not have residency requirements. However, in order to qualify for a Distinguished Veteran Pass you must be a California resident. 

My child has a permanent disability. Are they eligible for the Disabled Discount Pass?

Yes, minors are able to apply for the Disabled Discount Pass. If the child is under the age of 18 a parent/guardian must be listed on the application. 

I lost my discount pass, how do I receive a replacement?

At this time our departmental policy is that any lost/stolen pass applicants must completely reapply for the pass. Please email ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov if you need additional assistance on reapplying.

My discounted pass is completely faded from the sun, how do I receive a replacement?

Please email us at ParkPassInfo@parks.ca.gov. 

What is the difference between a Golden Bear Pass and a Limited Use Golden Bear Pass?

The Golden Bear Pass is considered to be our limited income pass while the Limited Use Golden Bear Pass is our senior pass. In order to qualify for the Golden Bear pass you must meet the income qualifications listed on the application. For the Limited Use Golden Bear Pass you must be 62 years or older in order to qualify. For more information, please visit parks.ca.gov/Passes.

The Limited Use Golden Bear Pass asks for my spouse/registered domestic partner. Can their name be on the pass if my spouse/registered domestic partner is not 62 or older?

Yes, as long as the primary applicant is over the age of 62 then the spouse/registered domestic partner does not have to be 62 years or older.