Travel Tips 

Essential Documents You Need When Visiting a U.S. National Park

Proper documentation is important when planning a trip to U.S. National Parks. Without one or many of the things on the following list, you may find yourself lost or even fined by the government. Plan ahead to ensure you’re prepared for any and all situations. We’ve compiled a list of essential documents to help you pack:
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Visit USA Parks

Adventurer & Photographer


If visiting from abroad, you’ll need these essential documents to gain entry into the United States. They’re also a valid form of identification that may be required of you to make certain reservations and purchases. If you’re planning an extended stay, you may need to secure a visa as well. Be sure to research this well beforehand, so you have what you need.


These might be the most important documents in your possession when visiting a national park. In short, you won’t be able to get in without them! American citizens have a couple options, including a free pass for members of the military, and a senior pass for those over the age of 62. Visitors and Americans who don’t fall into the select categories can purchase an annual pass for $80. The pass covers all entrance and amenity fees national parks present. Not just for you, but all the members of your party! You can also opt to purchase single tickets, if you’re only going to visit one park. Check individual park websites for admission details.

Fishing Permits and Other Applicable Licenses

Check local laws and regulations, which vary per state and park, to ensure you have the appropriate, essential documents to engage in certain recreational activities specific to your campsite (and click here to learn more about how to prepare for a fishing trip in the national parks).


Remember all the other activities you took the time to plan; hiking, horseback riding, and more? Make sure you carry a written document of them, so you can stay on track and experience everything on your agenda! No one likes to forget the main event!

Resource Books

Bird-watching guides, plant guidebooks, or even specific national park guidebooks, for example, can help you make sense of the location and scenery around you. They can keep you safe from harmful wildlife, and ensure you’re making the most of your exploration. A few other things you’ll need include the following: copies of insurance documents, rental car documents, lodging reservation confirmations and/or camping permits, maps and related material (to make sure you don’t get lost!), and prescriptions (if applicable) to help you stay healthy abroad. 

Looking for some more information on how to pack for your first or next trip to one of America’s national parks?

For more tips, and contact our Visit USA Parks experts for plenty of additional advice. We’ll help ensure you don’t leave anything essential behind on your next adventure.  

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