Intro to National Park Passport Stamps
Hi everyone. It’s Tyler here from TheTravelingToddler.com. Do you visit National Parks? If so, then you’ve probably seen people carrying around a small blue book and wondered what is that? Well those people have a Passport to the National Parks.
Today, I’m going to teach you all about getting a National Park Passport and collecting National Park Passport Stamps
National park background
The National Park Service (nps.gov) was created in 1916 and operates 417 sites in the United States.
59 sites are what we normally think of as a national park like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon.
The sites in the National Park Service are designated by the United States Congress or the President of the United States. They have significant historical or environmental value and many people make visiting national parks a vacation priority.
Cancellation stamps background
One of the ways that people commemorate their visit to a national park is by getting a cancellation stamp.
It’s similar to how you get a stamp in your travel passport when you visit a foreign country.
The stamps are free although you may have to pay an entrance fee to get into the park to get the stamp. In total, there are over 2,000 cancellation stamps available among all the national park sites.
National Park Passport background
The park service sells an official national park passport from Eastern National for about $15 to collect your stamps.
You don’t have to purchase the passport book to collect stamps, but it’s by far the most common way for people to collect their cancellation stamps. Over a million passports have been sold since the inception of the program in 1986!
There is a passport geared toward kids as well as a notebook sized version. They also sell extra blank pages to attach to your passport should you be lucky enough to run out of space in your initial passport.
Keep in mind that this passport is completely different from the passport you use for international travel. Please do not put the national park cancellation stamps in your travel passport!
Also, the National Park passport is a commemorative item only, and does not confer any entrance privileges to the parks. There are separate programs available for frequent park visitors to save on entrance fees.
Location of cancellation stamps
Most cancellation stamps are located in the gift shop, ranger station, or visitor center of the site you are visiting.
Some sites have more than one stamp, so look for additional stamps at sites with more than one visitor center (like large national parks) or sites that are geographically large (such as national scenic areas or national trails)
In addition, you might be able to get multiple stamps in a single location if the location overlaps multiple national park sites.
For example, stamps for the Great Smoky Mountains, Trail of Tears, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Appalachian Trail can be gotten in one location because all 4 sites overlap at a single geographical point.
To make things easier for you, the manufacturer of the cancellation stamps eParks (eparks.com) maintains a location list of every single cancellations stamp available.
If you think a location should have a stamp, but can’t find it, just ask.
The Parks Ranger are always willing to help and it’s probably the most common question the Park Rangers hear!
Make sure the stamp is right side up and the date is correct.
Many sites have blank sheets of paper to test stamp on before you stamp your passport.
Stamp the correct section of your passport.
The passport divides the United States into different regions so make sure you stamp in the proper region.
A couple of ways to know if you’re stamping in the right region – look for the name of the site in the specific passport section, match up the color code of the passport section with the color of the stamp ink, or just simply ask the Park Ranger.
If you forget your National Park Passport, just ask the Park Ranger for a blank square of paper.
You can stamp the square and later tape it to your passport when you get home.
If you forget to obtain a stamp entirely, many sites will mail you a stamp if you mail them a request.
Just mail a request to the national park site in question with a stamped, self addressed stamped envelope enclosed.
Although this does not appear to be an official National Park Service policy, I’ve spoken with numerous park rangers who say they frequently do this. Nonetheless, you should probably confirm with the site in question before sending anything to them.
If you have an Apple device, you can download the National Park Passport App by Eastern National to assist with your passport stamp collecting.
If you’re interested in meeting other National Park Stamp enthusiasts, there is an official group called the National Park Travelers Club (parkstamps.org)
Well I hope I’ve been able to give you some basic information about National Park Passport Stamps.
It’s a really great way to commemorate your visit to our country’s national parks.
Every time I look at my passport book, it brings back great memories of traveling with my mom and dad.
I also invite you to read my reviews of Congaree National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park and good luck collecting national park passport stamps.
Thanks for reading.
Do you collect national park passport stamps? What national park passport stamps do you have? Leave your comments below.