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Kick off 2020 at the park or the beach: Empire State Passes go on sale Jan. 1

Fishing for stripped bass on the shore of

Fishing for stripped bass on the shore of Robert Moses State Park in Babylon on Nov. 12. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

If your New Year's resolution is to turn life into a day (or multiple days) at the beach or a New York State park, then now's the time to get your Empire State pass.

The Empire Pass provides unlimited day-use vehicle entry to most facilities operated by New York State Parks and the State Department of Environmental Conservation.  

The state reminds you there's myriad options available, whether you choose a wallet-sized Empire Pass that can be shared within a household; a traditional window decal for a specific car, motorcycle or SUV; or even variants of the pass available for different lengths of time — from the single-season option to passes that cover multiple seasons or even a lifetime pass.

Chose your option, then pick your park or beach. Or, visit them all.


If you already have an Empire Pass card, you can renew it online. These passes can't be renewed at park facilities and take 24 to 48 hours for card activation to take place, so plan ahead.

Renewals taking place from Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a $10 discount; those taking place from April 1 until the end of the season will receive a $5 discount. You can access details and complete the renewal process online at

If you need to check the expiration date of an existing Empire Pass card, you can do that, too, at the website.

Your options don't end there.


Single-season Empire Pass cards and decals are good from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. 

The 2020 Season Empire Pass is available for $80 and comes as a wallet-sized card that can be shared within a household because it is not assigned to a specific vehicle. To purchase the pass online, go to

In-person, single-season Empire Pass sales begin April 1 at your nearest state park or state park regional office. You can pay by credit card, check or money order payable to NYS Parks. Cash also is accepted, according to the state parks website.

Phone and mail options also are only available starting April 1.


If you frequently buy an Empire Pass, you just might be the right person to get a multiseason pass, which also can be purchased online, by mail or by phone.

A three-season pass — valid through Dec. 31, 2022 — costs $205, while a five-season pass — good through Dec. 31, 2024 — is available for $320.

Want a lifetime filled with days at the beach or park? Try the Lifetime Empire Pass, which can be purchased through the state parks website, or from the state Department of Motor Vehicles as an icon appearing on your state driver's license, nondriver ID card or even your learner's permit, all of which will eliminate the need for a separate card or document. The one-time fee is $750.

For more on purchasing a multiseason pass or lifetime pass , go to

Information on how to replace a lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed Empire Pass is also available on the website, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section.

For more information on any of the pass options, check the website, call 518-474-0458 during normal business hours, or email


As for special permits, such as Long Island 4x4 fishing permits exclusive to the region, you'll need to check for specific requirements on the state parks website,, under Long Island Regional Permits. You can also call 631-669-1000, ext. 223, during normal business hours.

Specialized permits include: Four-wheel-drive beach permits for fishing; four-wheel-drive beach vehicle permits for surfing or windsurfing; Camp Hero fishing permits; Caumsett fishing permits; stargazing permits; regional diving permits; and metal detector permits.

Permits also are required for the use of radio-controlled model airplanes, radio-controlled model boats, geocache explorations, group picnics, special park events, youth groups and for overnight parking at Robert Moses and Captree.

Individual park information numbers and contact information also can be found on the state parks website.

The site also covers information for special admission permits, like the Patriot Plan Benefit for members of the New York State National Guard or military reservists, covering free parks entries for immediate family members during deployment, as well as the Golden Park Program for residents 62 or older.

There's also a Lifetime Liberty Pass created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to permit qualified veterans with disabilities discounted use of state parks and historic sites operated by state parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

These include boat launch sites, historic sites, arboretums and park preserves, as well as 28 state park golf courses, 36 state park pools and discounted camping and cabin rentals at all 119 state park and DEC campgrounds.

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