Senior Pass for National Parks Increasing from $10 to $80

The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will be increasing in price from $10 to $80 on August 28, 2017.

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The Senior Pass is a pass that offers lifetime access to national parks and designated federal lands for. U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible for the Senior Pass. While I realize the vast majority of my readers are not in this demographic, you likely have parents or grandparents who could benefit from this pass, so it’s worth spreading the word. 

The Subway
The Subway at Zion National Park.

Although many of the National Park Service sites are free (only 118 of 417 require paid entry), this pass can end up saving you hundreds of dollars if you frequent even a few parks a year. Entrance to the popular parks like Yosemite often will cost $30 while other parks will cost around $10 to $15 per vehicle, usually.

With the pass, you’ll also gain access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five other Federal agencies including:

  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Delciate Arch wide shot with Brad
Brad at Arches National Park.

Does the pass work for the whole family?

The Senior Passes admit pass owner/s and passengers in a noncommercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass owner + three adults, not to exceed four adults, where per-person fees are charged.

What’s all changing about the Senior Pass?

As stated, he price of the Senior Pass is going up from $10 to $80. In addition, a new Senior  annual pass will be offered for $20. As a point of comparison, the standard annual pass costs $80.The new annual Senior Pass will be valid for one year from the date of issuance. Also worth noting, four annual Senior Passes purchased in consecutive years can be traded in for a lifetime pass.

The North Face
Half Dome at Yosemite National Park at sunset.

The price increase has to do with federal legislation, and is the first time that the Senior Pass has been increased since 1994 so we can’t be too upset about this and the fact that they are giving over a month’s notice is nice, too.

Where can I purchase the passes?

You can purchase the passes in the visitor centers/facilities at certain parks or online or by mail (mail includes an additional $10 fee). Check this link for instructions on purchasing the pass. (You’ll need to upload or send in a copy of your driver’s license, passport, or state issued ID to verify your eligibility.)

Big Bend - Sunset at the Window
Big Bend National Park — sunset at the Window

Final word

Exploring our national parks was what first got me into travel and travel writing. I think that the US has some of most diverse and inspiring landscapes in the world and the opportunity to gain entry to them for only $10 for people over the age of 61 is definitely worth it. Even if you don’t have any immediate plans to visit a park, I would still probably buy the pass since it’s only $10 as of now.

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