National Parks Access Pass

Has anyone ever attempt to get a National Parks Access Pass on the basis of their Type 1 Diabetes? I stumbled across the site and started looking into it. Technically, by law, T1D is considered a disability as it substantially limits the major life activity of our endocrine systems as defined in Title 29 of the US Code (29 U.S.C. § 705) pursuant to Title 42 (42 U.S.C. § 12102). Granted, I don’t think most people with T1D consider themselves as what most think of as “disabled”, and you’d never know it just to look at someone with T1D unless you spot a pump or other related item.

So, is this getting by on a technicality to save hundreds of $$ over a lifetime of visiting parks? Morally objectionable to some? Perfectly fine in the eyes of some? We pay enough to manage this thing so why not get something free out of the deal in some minds?


@awg0681 Hello,

I’d hate to see this turn into a discussion on morality - if it’s something you want, and something you need, and you qualify, then there’s nothing wrong with it.

The parks and the funding that goes into parks are not associated with health care, so the 2 economies don’t exactly credit or debit each other. Certainly if you are having difficulties paying for it all, taking a discount so you can experience the parks seems practical.


I don’t consider myself to be disabled, just at a slight disadvantage. I just have to work harder and longer than others to achieve the same level of success. I would not accept a free parks pass for disabled people on principle. (I also refused a few college scholarships for the same reason).

I think this is an individual choice, the purpose on the website is also for knowing when T1s are in the park and can aid in appropriate rescue response if required. This is obviously a personal decision, but I don’t think it’s immoral to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s for any listed/official disability. There is no requirement to be disabled. Weirdly, those are 2 different things.

Just because you don’t accept that you are disabled… you are. You should not be denying stuff when you are disabled.


Who are you to say that I am disabled? If you want to feel sorry for yourself, go right ahead. [edited]

I also think they have these issues listed as disabilities, not only due to the physical part, but also the cost of treatment and supplies, and therefore you would need extra support to go to these types of activities if you had minimal income. So It is worth a try if you need it.

Hey Jess @MrEntropy, and @byrnethom Thomas, please keep the conversations polite and kind.

How do you go about getting the pass?

Perhaps “morally objectionable” was a poor term to use, but I think it got the point across.

By law, we have a disability, though I have yet to run across any T1D that considers themselves as “disabled” and certainly not disabled in the way people traditionally think when they hear that term. As was stated earlier, there’s a definite difference in having a disability and being disabled.

As far as obtaining the pass, you have to provide documentation of your disability from a doctor or some other “official” means. You can do the whole thing by mail and it’s $10 processing fee. If you are near enough to an office you can go to an office that provides them, show your documentation, and get the pass for free. There’s a link to a PDF on how to obtain one via mail or in person.

However, one of my questions here was if anyone has actually tried to get it on the basis of T1D since we typically don’t appear as disabled. I could imagine a haughty ranger giving some push back or possibly denying the pass.

I know people that have gotten and used it. The pass works, rangers don’t push back, they honor it.

@awg0681 Hi! My parents have an elder pass, but they don’t look or act like the age needed to qualify for that discount. Thank you @sneathbupp for confirming the pass works, but I would have never questioned that the ranger at the gate scrutinizes the pass received based on which merits. The pass is the pass, it is not marked “Old” or “Disabled”.

@nannimae I wouldn’t have thought a ranger at the gate would question it. I was more thinking it might get questioned when you go to get the pass (assuming you do so in person). If done by mail then I guess that’s taken out of the equation. However, as @sneathbupp said, they’re aware of people that have gotten it so, questioned or not, they did end up obtaining the pass.

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Obviously this is a personal choice. I see nothing wrong with it; the Disney park in Florida offered a similar pass when I was younger, which allowed the user to skip very long lines, and it made things a lot easier for my family (especially because I used to get dizzy spells whenever my blood sugar was rising or falling very quickly, and that could make it difficult for a 7-year-old to stand in line for a long period of time). I think if you’re comfortable with the idea of getting this pass, you should go for it. You’re right that we do pay enough to manage it, and in my opinion we might as well take advantage of what we can get. Using the pass doesn’t necessarily mean you consider yourself “disabled”.

I say, “Perfectly fine.”

I got one for my son a couple of months ago. I see it as a way of making some good out of the hardship he faces and we manage every single day. It was super easy to get - I went to a national park not far from where I work with a letter from his endo, and the ranger simply handed me the card. Without the letter, he said I would have needed to sign an affidavit. We haven’t used it yet, but I’m looking forward to it! Our state has a program for state parks that we do not qualify for. Type 1 is a disability, legally, and we all know the burden that it is physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. I have no issue catching a break where I can - the breaks are so few and far between.

Today I was finally able to get away and go to an office to get my park pass. The closest one to me is an hour away, only open M-F until 3:30 so finding the time to go was probably the biggest challenge.

The place I went was actually an Army Corp of Engineers office, but there are also rangers working there too. The lady who was doing the passes was a volunteer and started out with some questions like “Do you have a handicapped license plate or hang tag? Do you receive social security disability?”, basically things that quickly and easily identify one as “disabled”. She didn’t seem very familiar with the other items that can be presented to obtain the pass. After I answered those questions, she went to the ranger on duty to ask about it and show them the letter from my endo. Shortly after, she came back and issued the pass. I imagine, as others have stated here, if you get a ranger up front then it’ll probably a quicker and easier process, not that it was particularly trying for me.

Additionally, the letter from my endo was pretty generic. It just stated that, in her medical opinion, I have T1D and use insulin therapy for my condition. I typed up a letter to take along with it stating that I’d like a National Park Access Pass based on the verification letter from my endo. Other than the volunteer initially thinking the doctor’s letter wasn’t verification enough and needing to get the ranger’s okay, it was fairly quick and simple. Now I’ve just gotta get out and see all the national parks.

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Thank you for pointing this out Abby. My grandson with T1D will be going to Disney World and the pass will be extremely helpful since he is only four years old.

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