New York State Unveils New Empire Pass Card

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The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced the new State Parks Empire Pass Card is now available for purchase. The new Empire Pass Card, accepted at state parks and recreation areas across New York, is a wallet-sized plastic card that can be shared among family members including parents, grandparents, caregivers and more. The card is presented upon vehicle entry and includes QR code and embedded chip technology to allow for easier park access at select facilities.

The new wallet-sized family-sharing Empire Pass card will be offered for $80. This price saves multiple-vehicle families a minimum of $50 annually. The original Empire Pass decal, formerly known as the Empire Passport, will still be offered as a decal for $65 and must be affixed to a vehicle as it is not shareable.

Both the Empire Pass card and Empire Pass decal programs provide unlimited day-use vehicle entry to state parks, Department of Environmental Conservation forest preserves, boat launch sites, arboretums and park preserves. Here is the full inventory of products now available to state park visitors:

*New* Empire Pass Card
Wallet-sized plastic card
Family sharing capabilities
Saves multiple vehicle families a minimum of $50 annually
Chip technology inside the card allows for express entry at select parks
Cost: $80

Empire Pass Decal
Decal that must be affixed to the vehicle
Families are required to purchase separate decals for each vehicle driven to the park.
Formerly known as the Empire Passport
Cost: $65 per vehicle

3-year Empire Pass Card
Wallet-sized plastic card
Now featuring family-sharing capabilities
Chip technology inside the card allows for express entry at many parks
Offers 3 year access at a 15% discount
Cost: $205

5-year Empire Pass Card
Wallet-sized plastic card
Now featuring family sharing capabilities
Chip technology inside the card allows for express entry at select parks
Offers 5 year access at a 20% discount (equivalent to buying 4 years and getting an entire park year free)
Cost: $320

Lifetime Empire Pass
Icon placed on one’s driver’s license
No expiration date
Buy it once and enjoy state parks forever
Cost: $750

All products except the Lifetime Empire Pass can be purchased online, by mail or by phone at (518) 474-0458. The Lifetime Empire Pass can be purchased online only. The annual Empire Pass Card and Empire Pass Decal can also be purchased in person at a state park or at a state park regional office. Patrons are advised to call ahead for specific hours of operation.

New York State encourages New York’s seniors age 62 and older to take advantage of the state parks Golden Park Program, which allows for their free entry into state parks weekdays (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) simply by showing their driver’s license or state-issued non-driver ID.

New York State offers the Lifetime Liberty Pass that permits New York State Veterans with 40% or greater service-connected disability discounted use of state parks, historic sites and recreational facilities. More information is available by clicking here.

In recognition of their commitment and sacrifices while in service, a member of the New York State Militia or any branch of the New York State National Guard or military reserves who is currently serving on active duty in support of the war on terrorism is eligible for the Patriot Plan benefit which provides one free Empire Pass for use by his or her immediate family during deployment and/or for his or her own use when returning home. For more information on the Patriot Plan benefit click here.

Governor Cuomo recently launched the “Connect Kids to Parks” program to enhance opportunities for schoolchildren and help promote parks and historic places in every corner of the state. As part of the effort, New York has extended free State Park day-use entry to all fourth-grade students and their families through 2017 and created a new grant program to transport schoolchildren to educational programs in State parks and historic sites.

For more information, click here.

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