For this 2015, California has just announced its Annual Park Pass Program, that offers four different passes allowing you access to the state’s parks, beaches and historic monuments. Note that these passes don’t include camping or special fees. Parks popular in Orange County include: Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Coast, Doheny Beach in Dana Point and Calafia and San Onofre in San Clemente. Here’s what’s on offer this year:
1. “California Explorer” Annual Pass ($195): Offers regular vehicle entrance and parking to 134 state parks, including popular Southern California beaches along the Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego coasts like Huntington Beach, Leo Carrillo and Carlsbad state beaches. This pass is also honored at most parks throughout the state that are operated by California State Parks and charge a vehicle day use fee.
2. “Golden Poppy” Annual Pass ($125): This includes vehicle entrance to 112 state parks – but not our local state beach parking lots. Get the California Explorer if you need local beach parking.
3. “Historian Passport” ($50): Includes admission for up to four people to State Historic Parks that charge a per-person admission fee. Pass holders can tour California missions, see where the Gold Rush happened and experience Native American culture. Sadly, Hearst Castle isn’t on the list of included parks. But 33 historic parks, including La Purisima Mission, Sutter’s Fort and Fort Tejon are included.
4. Special passes (free or low cost): The state also offers several types of deeply discounted admission passes for disabled people, senior citizens on fixed incomes, former prisoners of war and disabled veterans. Call 800-777-0369 ext. 3 or 916-653-8280 for Disabled Discount, Distinguished Veteran, Golden Bear and Limited Use Golden Bear Pass applications.
5. “Off Highway Vehicle” Day Use Annual Pass ($50): Unchanged from last year.
6 .Boat Use Annual Pass: is a small sticker that is placed on the Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass hangtag or the Golden Poppy Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass hangtag or a separate card for those who already have their passes and for Golden Bear Pass users. Each vessel, sailboat or personal watercraft (PWC) is considered a separate vessel with a boat use fee assessed for each upon entry to the park. This pass waives boat use fees for motorized vessels and for sailboats over 8'.
Note: They’ve also added a $75 Tahoe regional pass for parks around Lake Tahoe.
You can buy these passes online now at Store.parks.ca.gov or, starting Monday, at state park units where fees are collected. All of these passes are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase.