Back in April, 2022, the California State Library system kicked off a new pilot program, in conjunction with California State Parks. Under this program, residents with an active California State Library card would be eligible to check out a California State Parks pass from their nearest library—including mobile libraries. That pass, in turn, would allow that library cardholder to visit any one of 200 California State Parks for free on their motorbike (or some other way, we suppose).
The program started out relatively small, with a total of 5,000 park passes distributed to 1,184 California libraries in the first year alone. That’s cool, of course—but for 2023, the good news is that the program is expanding. The 2023 California State Library system and State Parks system says that it’s adding 28,000 free State Parks passes to the program. These passes will be available at all California State Libraries—including tribal libraries. That means more access for more people to the great outdoors—for riders, hikers, and everyone who wants to use them.
With the rising cost of everything, it can be difficult to find ways to go enjoy the great outdoors—and even more so if you want to go with other people, such as family members. For Californians, this joint program between the State Library system and the State Parks system provides much-needed access to folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go be in nature—with family, with friends, and/or just by themselves.
Reports from the CSL about the first year of the program have touted its popularity, from users spreading the news on TikTok and other social media, to first-time library users coming in to see if they can really get hold of a Parks Pass by simply signing up for a library card. It’s not a rumor—it's very much a real thing, and it’s open to all Californians—motorcycle riders included.
As of February, 2023, recent weather challenges throughout the state may impact park accessibility, so be sure to check for the latest information before you plan your trip. That’s good advice at any time of year, since conditions may change at any time. Also, please be aware that Park Passes cover the cost of entry to California State Parks. However, they do not cover camping or any other fees that may be incurred, depending on your chosen activities within those parks.
More information about the program, including an interactive map of all the California State Parks locations where these passes are valid, is available in our Sources.