America the Beautiful -- the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands -- Pass, which combines the benefits of existing recreation passes from five different federal agencies, went on sale beginning Jan. 2. The national interagency pass program features an $80 Annual pass, a $10 Senior Pass good for life, a free Access Pass also good for life and a new Volunteer Pass. The new pass system replaces the current Golden Eagle, Age and Access passports, as well as the National Parks Pass. Golden Age and Access passport cards that have already been issued will continue to be honored for the holder's lifetime.
The new passes cover recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Department of the Interior agencies -- the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, and by the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service.
On the Tonto National Forest, those with a valid Golden Passport of any type or one of the new interagency national passes will be able to purchase a Tonto Upgrade sticker good at most daily fee recreation sites on the forest.
"In the past, we have charged recreation pass holders $30 for the annual Tonto Upgrade," said Forest Supervisor Gene Blankenbaker. "However, the new national interagency Annual Pass will sell for $80 per year, whereas the annual Golden Eagle Pass sold for $65. Rather than pass this national price increase along to our users, we have decided to reduce the cost of the Tonto Upgrade to $15."
"The good news for holders of Golden Age or Access Passports or new interagency Senior and Access passes is that they can enjoy all of the daily fee recreation sites on the Tonto -- from Roosevelt Lake to the Lower Salt River; and from Bartlett Lake to Needle Rock -- for only $15 a year. Seniors and access pass holders will continue to receive a 50 percent discount on daily use fees without the upgrade." The national interagency passes will be available at participating federal agency offices in January. The Tonto Upgrade is only available at Tonto National Forest offices in Phoenix, Cave Creek, Mesa, Payson, Roosevelt, Globe and Young.