Some of our favorite trips that we take here in the US are to visit our nation’s beautiful national parks! We also enjoy setting goals and keeping track of our progress whenever we do things, so it made sense that we pick up one of the National Park Passport books to help document our travels to all these beautiful parks and stamp the book with the date to help keep the memory. We’ve had our Passport Book now for around 10 years, and it’s fun to see all the places we’ve visited together.
Another way that we keep track of the National Parks that we visit is through our printable National Park Checklist!
What is the National Park Passport?
The National Park Passport is a great (and affordable) souvenir that stays with you after your national park adventures. The passport to the national parks was designed in 1986. It comes in the form of a handy booklet and was specially created to help all park visitors in tracking their adventures throughout national parks. They also have many commemorative editions for various anniversaries.
Keep in mind, that these Passport books came before modern mobile phones that have the option to hundreds of selfies in a few seconds and mark your location. But, still, the passport program is one of the most popular souvenirs that you can bring home from your trip. The book is a great reminder of the parks and all the fun you and your family have had and you can track your way as you visit the many parks across the country, and also see where else you have yet to visit.
How to Use the National Park Passport?
The National Park Passport is really simple to use. Once you purchase a passport book you can collect a stamp at each National Park or National Historic site that you visit. They call these “cancellation stamps” and they each have a unique image on them, the location, and the date of your visit. The only expense you have is the book you purchase and your entry fees to the National Park. Once inside, the stamps are totally free for you to collect.
The National Park Passport book also comes with a complete map and list of each National Park Service, grouped by region. Every region is color-coded to match the color of the stamp that you’ll find within the park. Also, to Passport book contains photographs, illustrations, and pre-visit information to help you plan your trip. Lastly, the book contains additional details about the park and location so that you can remember your trip.
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport Stamps can usually be found in Visitor Centers and Ranger Stations. You’ll be looking for the Passport Stamp Cancellation Stations. Some parks may even have more than one stamp station. The stamps are round in 32mm size and consist of three parts: At the top edge, there is a park name, in the center is a date, and at the bottom is location.
The process for obtaining your cancellation stamps at the National Park is quite simple:
- Locate the cancellation station (they are usually near the park’s bookstores & there could be more than one)
- Find the blank page in your passport that corresponds with that park / location.
- With a firm, steady hand press the stamp into the ink and then place it in your book for a clear imprint
And that’s it.
Where to Buy a National Park Passport Book
There are many types of National Park Passport books, including anniversary and commemorative editions. However, the Classic Edition is likely to be the most used Passport book. The book is actually a small, spiral, bounded, notebook, that has 112 pages and plenty of space for stamps collecting. These notebooks are lightweight, small, and easy to carry and even fit in most travel bags.
You can buy the National Park Passport book in many places. Of course, they are available at all the National Park visitor centers and bookstores. For your convenience, you can also buy a Passport Book online before your trip so you are ready to go!
It’s Fun to Look Back in Our Passport Book!
It’s crazy to think that we’ve had our National Park Passport Book for roughly 10 years now. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to visit so many parks. From Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, the Great Sand Dunes, the Redwoods, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Everglades and more! We enjoy flipping through the book and remembering our travels, plus it’s also nice to have the dates on there so we can remember exactly when we visited!
We were just beginning to date when we bought our book and started on these adventures. Looking back, I’m so glad we bought it because it’s like having a living memory come with us wherever we go.