Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

New York State Parks unveils new family-sharing Empire Pass card


Thu, Feb 16th 2017 03:15 pm
A view from Niagara Falls State Park (File photo)
A view from Niagara Falls State Park (File photo)

New Empire Pass allows sharing between family members, express entry at select parks and cost savings of a minimum of $50 annually

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on Thursday 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 and caregivers. The card is presented upon vehicle entry and includes QR code and embedded chip technology to allow for easier park access at select facilities.

"We are responding with this new and more user-friendly product to strengthen the connection between people and their parks," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "With the new Empire Pass card, gone are the days of needing multiple decals on multiple cars for families who enjoy the outdoors. The new Empire Pass card will allow parents to take any vehicle to the park, the family babysitter to keep the kids active over the summer, or grandparents to accompany the kids to a weekend nature program - all with one pass."

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.

"Every year, DEC is focused on introducing more New Yorkers to the amazing outdoor recreational opportunities that our state parks and open spaces have to offer," Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "The new Empire Pass card provides yet another affordable option for families to enjoy the millions of acres of some of the most spectacular public lands in the world."

Both the Empire Pass card and Empire Pass decal programs provide unlimited day-use vehicle entry to state parks, DEC 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 three-year access at a 15 percent 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 five-year access at a 20 percent discount (equivalent to buying four 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 at www.nysparks.com, 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 (excluding holidays) simply by showing their driver's license or state-issued non-driver ID.

New York state offers the Lifetime Liberty Pass, which permits New York state veterans with 40 percent 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.

Gov. Andrew 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 on these initiatives, visit www.nysparks.com 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus