The California State Parks system is encouraging Californians to take advantage of multiple ways to visit state parks for free, including utilizing the California State Library Parks Pass.
Representatives said Tuesday that CalWORKs families, Social Security recipients, fourth graders and library card holders can have their admission fees waived to enter over 200 state parks and beaches — like the Bay Area’s Pescadero State Beach, Big Basin Redwoods and Mount Tamalpais.
All public library card holders can access a free vehicle day-use entry pass for any of the participating state parks via their local public library. Checkout times and the number of passes available depend on each library.
The three-year library pass pilot program distributed 5,000 passes to more than 1,000 libraries across the state during its launch in April 2022. State park officials said an additional 28,000 library passes will soon be distributed to libraries, which will raise the average number of passes available at each branch to 24.
“California’s libraries serve their communities in all kinds of ways besides providing the books Californians want to read,” said California State Librarian Greg Lucas. “They check out tools, DVDs, provide online learning you can access 24/7 — even homework tutoring. And now they’re helping open the window on California’s breathtaking state parks. Just one more great reason to visit your local library — in-person or online.”
Families receiving assistance via CalWORKS, Social Security recipients and residents over the age of 62 with qualifying income can also apply for the Golden Bear Pass, a program launched in 1977 to increase equitable park access that provides an annual vehicle day-use pass for more than 200 parks and beaches.
In its second year, the three-year California State Park Adventure Pass pilot program is also providing free passes to 19 select state parks to all California fourth graders and their families.
Launched by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom in her California for All Kids initiatives, the program has handed out more than 26,000 passes to families to date. Newsom said families should utilize the program to connect with both the state’s natural beauty and each other.
“Spending time outside can be tremendously beneficial to a person’s mood, stress levels, and overall well-being,” Siebel Newsom said in a news release. “The Adventure Pass, Library Parks Pass, and Golden Bear Pass give Californians increased access to our beautiful state parks and all of the benefits that come with time spent in nature.”
Residents who qualify for the Golden Bear Pass and the Park Adventure Pass can go online to obtain a pass.