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  1. #1
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    Default USGS Access Pass Use

    I noticed there is a $20 permit for camping the AT stretch through the Smokies. Would this cost be covered with a USGS Annual or lifetime Access card? What other permitting do I need going North from Springer that are not covered by the card?

  2. #2

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    You'd have to check their web site. I don't think the park pass applies to lodging, which the huts would be considered. You need to apply for a thru hiker pass when you get near the park and pony up the 20 bucks.
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    I noticed there is a $20 permit for camping the AT stretch through the Smokies. Would this cost be covered with a USGS Annual or lifetime Access card?

    the Smoky's are a National Park.....

    That is not under the USGS umbrella.....

    so that would be a no......

    I cannot attest to what other places along the AT that this card would cover......

    For the Smoky's you need to make a reservation at whatever shelter you want to stay at (required).....

    and carry the permit........

    Just go to their website and it will walk you through it...

  4. #4
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    The passes are purchased online thru USGS and give free access to those federal sites that charge an entrance fee, including NPS and USFS. I think you can get a discount on front country camping in GSMNP with the pass but I don’t think you can use it for the backcountry.
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  5. #5
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    If you are going to enter SNP by vehicle on the Skyline Drive you can save $30 if you have a pass.
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  6. #6
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    I think you can get a discount on front country camping in GSMNP with the pass but I don’t think you can use it for the backcountry.



    ahhh.....did not know the pass would cover entrance fees since my main places of hiking don't involve entrance fees....

    the website is not really clear about front country camping----other than to ask the specific park.....

    and on the Smoky's page-----it says they don't sell them but to check at a few of the front country campgrounds....

    which to me, implies that they might take it....


    i doubt it can be used for the backcountry...

  7. #7
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    Lightbulb USBS Access Pass -- what it covers

    I did an internet search for "USGS Access Pass" and found
    https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass
    that it is simply the "American the Beautiful [AtB] Access Pass" -- which is free *WITH PROPER DOCUMENTATION* -- purchased through the USGS for a $10 fee.
    In what they cover, this pass is no different than the standard AtB Pass or the AtB Senior Pass (which I have).
    These passes cover ONLY entrance fees, and ONLY at federal sites that charge an entrance fee.
    It MIGHT reduce the cost of front-country camping within federal sites -- or not.
    The fee for camping at back-country sites in the Great Smokies is a RESERVATION fee, to cover the cost of managing the myriad demands of people wanting to camp in the back-country of this VERY popular national park.

    There is an entrance fee for Shenandoah NP, but it MIGHT be waived for A.T. hikers -- or not (the NPS web site is ambiguous, and I've read conflicting accounts of being charged). This WOULD be covered by any of the AtB passes.
    In addition, there is no fee to camp in the Shenandoah back-country, but you must STILL fill out (no cost) a registration of your itinerary before doing so. This can be done at any ranger station, including at the entrances, or at the kiosks when you enter the park along The Trail. If you are hiking a significant part of the A.T., you are allowed to have a vague itinerary as long as you stick to that path.

    Other than this entrance fee for Shenandoah, none of the AtB passes will cover any expenditures along any part of the A.T.

  8. #8

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    The America the Beautiful National Park Pass is free if you have 100% disability, otherwise it is $80/year, or $80 for a lifetime if you are 62, or older. If you buy it through the USGS store there is a $10 processing fee, in addition to the cost of the pass.
    It covers National Park entrance fees (GSMNP doesnít have an entrance fee), and up to 50% off campground fees. I have used my Senior lifetime pass, trailer camping, at COE, USFS, and NPS campgrounds and gotten the discounts. The NPS campgrounds Iíve stayed at were on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I havenít stayed at any other NPS campgrounds.

    - I donít know if back country campsites are covered, or if it is only for improved campgrounds

  9. #9
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    the Smoky's are a National Park.....

    That is not under the USGS umbrella.....

    so that would be a no......
    ...
    Well actually, though the name "USGS" (US geological survey) is indeed confusing, these passes are precisely for our National Park system use (plus "federal recreation lands", like NFS and others).

    https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass

    Anyway, I've tried to use mine (senior pass, not access pass) for a discount on backcountry camping permits in numerous national parks, like the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands very recently, and no, there is no backcountry discount with this card. this application seems pretty similar to the $20 permit you get entering the smoky mtn NP backcountry, so my guess is no, no discount. I took a brief look on the access and senior card "benefit" page and saw nothing about backcountry access.

    I tell ya though, having this old-man version of the pass has paid for itself many times over in just the 2.5 years I've had it. wow, what a deal.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerDieDas View Post
    I noticed there is a $20 permit for camping the AT stretch through the Smokies. Would this cost be covered with a USGS Annual or lifetime Access card? What other permitting do I need going North from Springer that are not covered by the card?
    https://appalachiantrail.org/explore...s-regulations/

  12. #12
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Sorry for the thread drift - for us younger folks with children there's also a program where kids and their families can get free access to national parks during their 4th grade school year.

    https://everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm
    It's all good in the woods.

  13. #13
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    When I hiked thru the Smokies in 2017 I emailed their office asking them if I could use the America the Beautiful Park Pass and they said you could not use it for the backcountry fee.

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