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Save Money While You Explore Texas!

Video: Texas Travel Tip: Save Money with the Texas State Parks Pass!

As Native Texans we have saved money with the Texas State Parks Pass for decades and we're always surprised by how many people don't know that Texas Parks and Wildlife offers an annual pass! So we thought we'd share our experiences so you can decide if it is something you might be interested in.

We have been Texas State Park Pass Holders for many, many years. (Stacie and her family began buying annual State Park Passes way before they were plastic cards!) And even before we began RVing, a Texas State Parks Pass was something we purchased every year without fail. This is not a paid endorsement. We do not work for Texas Parks and Wildlife. But we are huge believers in the annual pass. Here's why...

The Benefits of the Texas State Parks Pass:

Your Texas State Parks Pass gets you free entry into every Texas State Park for an entire year! Day use fees vary across the parks depending on size of the park, infrastructure or popularity. Some parks charge a $2 entry fee while others cost $8 for the day. Our guess is that the average day use entry fee at a Texas State Park is likely around $5 per person per day. Your Texas State Parks Pass covers all day use fees for everyone in your vehicle. So if you are a family of four adults or four people above the age of 12, your Pass could save you an average of $20 for each day that you visit a Texas State Park!

We've often heard folks complain that it is too expensive to camp at a Texas State Park. Frankly, we thought these folks were crazy until we realized it was because they did not know about the Texas State Parks Pass. Without the annual pass, you pay day use fees for each person on top of your nightly camping fees. Your Texas State Parks Pass covers your day use fees, so with it, you only pay your nightly camping fees. Depending on the size of your group and how many nights you camp, this could be a significant savings! It definitely saves us a bunch of money!

Besides covering your day use fees for a year, your Texas State Parks Pass also gets you a few nights of discounted camping, as well as discounts in park gift shops or for equipment rentals in some parks.

The Costs of the Texas State Parks Pass:

Currently, one annual pass (which is good for an entire vehicle) costs $70 for the year. If you often travel in two vehicles, you can purchase a second pass for someone who lives at the same address for an additional $25.

Is the Cost of a Texas State Parks Pass Worth It?

For us, this is a very big ABSOLUTELY!! We love to visit our Texas State Parks and if we were paying the day use fees on every visit, we would spend a lot more than $70 in a lot less than a year. Roll in the camping, store and equipment rental discounts and we feel like it's an amazing bargain for us. It is a no-brainer purchase for us every year! Even if you do not live in Texas, we encourage you to consider buying a Texas State Parks Pass if you plan to visit the parks while you are here. We'd suggest writing down your plans: how many Texas State Parks do you plan to visit during the year? How many nights do you expect to camp in the parks? What are the day use fees for each park (per person, per day)? What other savings will you see (discounted camping, souvenirs)? This is the best way to determine if a Texas State Parks Pass is right for you.

Additional Tips:

Tip 1: You can buy a Texas State Parks Pass over the phone and have it mailed to you by calling 512.389.8900. However, please note that your Pass becomes active right away. To get the full benefit of the Pass, we suggest buying it when you are checking into a Texas State Park for the first time. You will receive all of the benefits right away and you will have a full year to use it! Plus, you won't have to pay shipping and handling fees.

Tip 2: While the Texas State Parks Pass does not have a name physically on it, it is assigned to a specific person in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system. You might be asked to provide your driver's license as proof of ID when you present your Pass, so it's a good idea to register your family's Pass in the name of the person most likely to check you in to the parks.

Tip 3: There are additional Passes available through Texas Parks and Wildlife for qualifying seniors, disabled veterans, other folks with disabilities and youth groups. Visit the Park Passes page of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for more information.

Bonus Tip: If you will be visiting several Federal Parks (National Parks, US Forest Service Parks, National Grasslands, Corps of Engineer Parks...) over the course of the year, you might consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass to cover your day use fees in the federal parks. More information on this pass, along with other federal park pass options, is available on the annual pass information pages of the National Park Service and Recreation.gov.

We hope this tip has been helpful for you. Please share it with anyone who you think will appreciate the information!

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Safe Travels and Happy Camping!