National Parks Cancellation Stamps

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Example of a National Park Passport Stamp for the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

At nearly all of the 391 American National Park units (and many of the National Park Service's affiliated areas), one or more National Park Passport Stamps (cancellation stamps) can be acquired at no cost at park visitor centers and ranger stations. The stamps are similar in nature to passport stamps stamped in a traveler's national passport. The stamps serve as a record of each park visit. The Passport program is run by Eastern National, a non-profit organization. The program began in the middle of 1986.

[edit] Passport Books

Passport books, sold by Eastern National, provide a place for park visitors to collect National Park cancellation stamps. Over 1,300,000 Passport books have been sold.[1] The 3.25" x 5.5" passport book provides five pages for each of the nine regions where the passport user can place ink stamp cancellations and can affix one featured stamp per page. A featured stamp collector's passport would therefore be filled after five years of use as long as the featured stamps were added to the book each year. In 2006, for the program's 20th anniversary, the "Passport Explorer" was released, featuring a binder and larger pages.[2] Due to its binder format, the Passport Explorer allows the user to easily add extra pages for additional cancellation stamps and featured stamps.

[edit] National Park Passport Regions

Map of the US states and colored their regional colors (colors are altered for readability and do not necessarily match the actual stamp colors used). Note that Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands are not shown.

The Passport to Your National Parks program has divided the United States into 9 distinct regions. Passport stamp ink is available in one of 9 colors depending on which of the 9 passport regions of the United States where the traveler obtains the stamp. The passport books are divided into these same regions for ease of organization and use. The regions (and their colors) are:

Passport Stamps for 2001 as packaged for sale

[edit] Passport to Your National Parks Annual Stamp Series

In addition to the cancellation stamps, each year the National Parks Passport Program releases a set of ten full-color collector stamps featuring a photo and description of one park per region. Passport holders can affix these adhesive stamps to their Passport book in a designated space below which they can stamp the corresponding cancellation. The Park units featured on the stamp sets change each year.

The stamp sets, dating back to their inception in 1986, are still readily available at most park unit gift shops for under $5.

Originally, the featured stamps were only available in the region they represented, save for Colonial National Historical Park, where Eastern-National was headquartered. In 1986 the stamps were printed on thin cardboard, which distorted the passbook due to the combined thickness of the cardboard. Each stamp would be mounted onto its respective page with a lightweight, black, adhesive-backed plastic sleeve. Since 1987, the annual stamp series have been minted on a single sheet of adhesive-backed glossy paper, of a quality similar to that of conventional postage stamps.