Understanding the National Park Senior Pass Rate Increase

August 14, 2017NPF Blog
Dave L. receiving a lifetime pass at Yosemite National Park – Lisa Lopez, Share Your Story

The cost of the lifetime national park senior pass will increase effective August 28, 2017. The price will now be $80, though seniors who already have a pass will not need to get a new one.  

What is the pass?

The America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass offers visitors over the age of 62 entrance into national parks and national wildlife refuges, in addition to standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. If at a per vehicle area, the pass holder and occupants of a non-commercial vehicle enter free. At per person fee areas, the pass holder and up to three additional adults enter free of charge.

The pass includes other discounts on some expanded amenity fees charged at facilities and services (boat lunch, camping, etc.). The pass is non-transferable and does NOT cover recreation permit fees or concessionaire fees.

Why is the price increasing?

The price increase is a result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the U.S. Congress on December 16, 2016. The new cost of the lifetime senior pass will be equal to the regular price of an America the Beautiful Pass, the annual pass for those under the age of 62.

Why is the price changing from $10 to $80?

The price of the lifetime senior pass had not changed since 1994, but the needs of our national parks have increased since that time. The revenues generated from the sales of the lifetime senior passes will help support projects and programs that support visitor experiences at the over 400 national parks across the country. For the same price ($80) that non-senior visitors pay for one year, pass holders receive unlimited access for years to come.

How do I get a pass?

To get a pass you can choose one of the following methods:

  1. Mail (requires additional $10 processing fee): Paper applications will require proof of residency and age.
  2. Online (requires additional $10 processing fee): Applicants need to upload proof of residency and age, as well as providing credit card information.
  3. In person (no additional fee): This is the preferred option if you’re visiting one of the participating Federal recreation sites or offices. Here is a list of locations that offer the Senior Pass. Make sure to call ahead to ensure that they have passes on hand.

Passes take between six to ten weeks to arrive. Be careful with your pass! They are non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

Sun peaking out over blue the blue mountaintops with rocks in the foreground at Shenandoah National Park

Worried about committing $80 to a lifetime pass that you may only use this year?

Rather than leaping into a lifetime pass, another great option is to purchase an Annual Senior pass for $20, which lasts for one year. Once you renew the pass for four consecutive years (a total of $80), you’re welcome to trade the pass in for a lifetime national park senior pass for no additional fee and you will not need to renew your pass ever again!

What about prices for other passes?

Here is a list of information and pricing for other park passes.

What about the FREE stuff?

There are fee-free days for all visitors several times a year. Check here for a list of fee-free days in 2017. Free passes are also available for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities and volunteers who have completed 250 service hours.

These rate increases will help the National Park Service improve visitor experiences and recreation opportunities across the land. For further information on these recent updates, head to the National Park Service website.

Other Questions?

Have other questions about the pass or about your pass in particular? The official pass program is run by USGS.  For any other information about the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, contact 1-888-ASK-USGS and press 3. (888-275-8747, option 3), or [email protected]

Comments

We love our parks and agree with the increase in fees. These places are too precious and we must do all we possibly can to assure their future. How about considering an increase in all fees starting with small increases and increasing over time.
Ruth A
Karrel
I'm disappointed in the price increase to seniors. Originally the cost was nothing to seniors. Then they snuck in a $10 price and said it was only for the cost of printing the materials that would be given to the seniors. It was never intended to pay for any programs or any other things that they're now claiming they need the price increase for. Again the original cost was free to seniors which is appropriate because the amount of taxes and time they have put into this country. Then the cost was made $10 only to cover the cost of the sticker or card or pamphlets given to the seniors. This $80 charge is inappropriate it is a rip-off and it is a slap in the face to seniors everywhere in the United States of America.
Mark
Creager
My credit card bill shows you have chartered me $20. But I don't receive any document from you, even receipt. What happened?
Guangyao
Zeng
The official pass program is run by USGS. For questions about the pass, contact 1-888-ASK-USGS and press 3. (888-275-8747, option 3), or [email protected]
NPF
Staff
me either!!!!
Ami
Christianson
Ordered mine online Aug. 28 (before mn). Did not receive an email or the pass.
JoAnn
Differding
So few National Parks in the New England area, not really worth 80 dollars. I hope I don't lose my pass.
Bruce
Gaylord
I bought a second one in case i lost one. Cheaper than buying a new one at $80 and Yosemite is worth every penny of $80
Pat
Dornan
I'm Italian and once every two/three years I come in the US for visiting, among many other beautiful places, most of the Sierra National Parks. Would it be possible in the future to get the Senior Lifetime Pass program extended to foreign visitors as well?
Andrea
Galmacci
Got my Senior Lifetime Pass in 2014. Best $10 I ever spent. See my travels and visits around North America to our National Parks and National Treasures at petesbigadventure.wordpress.com
Pete
Rutkowski
I support this fee increase. This spring we did an extensive RV tour of the western National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, Zion, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Mt. Rushmore. While the parks are breathtaking, we saw signs in all of them that the infrastructure needs help. The parks are our national treasures. The rate increases seem well thought out, and I am hopeful these increases will assist park management in providing the necessary funding for improvements.
Nancee
Carter
Completely agree with Nancee. Just returned from a 3 week trip to the Badlands, Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, and Yellowstone. These truly American treasures should be protected and maintained in perpetuity. Yellowstone shows signs of ill repair just due to the volume of visitors alone; I don't know how the National Park Service keeps it in repair now.
John
Carpenter
Don't mind the $80.00 (or $20.00 for 4 yrs.). But passes can't be used in all Parks. Example: Mt. Rushmore, one park I go to at least once every year. Increase is alright, just use it for Parks.
Andy
Ottaway
What about those of us who already have lifetime passes -- are they still valid?
Michael
Wentzel
Yes. Still valid. See the second sentence of the article! Don't lose it though - a new one will cost you the $80!
Cathy
D
I turn 62 on January 8. How soon can I order one online so I can start using it then.
Marti
Lindhorst
While I have no objection to paying more for the Lifetime Pass, and the NPS has made an excellent offer with the 4x$20 deal, I can't help but wonder about budgetary problems when numbers of visitors to the National Parks are up to record highs. Much like the USPS the NPS should examine it's "business as usual" attitude and institute its changes starting at the executive level. "Dead wood makes a good fire but is not conducive to growth".
Pete
Suchon
Budgets cuts are evident especially with the new administration that doesn't have the same regard for the national parks as other administrations. I support the increase and I am going to miss the $10.00 golden pass. that's ok, I love the national parks
Mary
Wierschem
Clearly, the huge numbers of people coming into parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone mean that you are not charging enough. People pay $100 a day or more to enter amusements like Disney World, yet the national park is charging practically nothing. I waited over an hour in a mile-long line to get through the entrance station at Yosemite in July and I had gotten there early. Too many people means the cost of entry is too low.
Dorothy
Myers
On the contrary, perhaps you should not try to visit the national parks in peak season without expecting some kind of wait. No matter where you go for recreation in the summertime, there are waits! Try traveling in "lighter", more accommodating seasons of the year if you don't like to wait. Additionally, I feel strongly that God created a gorgeous world for us all to live in and it should never be cost prohibitive or the right of privilege for anyone to enter and enjoy the BEST of nature with their families. When life gets tough, as it often does, many find solace in the abundance of nature and seek inspiration from within our glorious parks...high costs should never hinder people from amazing experiences or finding peace in the national parks that were create for ALL citizens.
Jennifer
Lund
What about disabled senior passes
Michael
Tomei
When I purchased my Lifetime pass, a few weeks ago, the ranger station did not have any informational pamphlets to go with it. I'd love to receive one, so that I know how to use it, and what discounts it covers within the parks. Thank you!
Pat
Serio
I love our national parks but find it sort of dismaying that we are trying to fund them by charging seniors more. The US government should just pony up and support our magnificent parks. Instead, from what I understand, the parks have just been receiving increasing cuts to budgets and the current administration will probably try to privatize them all instead of supporting them and beginning to restore funding until they are once again fully shining jewels.
Robin
Barfoot
I have had a senior pass for a number of years now, though health issues have prevented me from utilizing it as much as desired. But $10 for an entry fee, much less a lifetime pass is a ridiculously low admission price. You can't even see a good movie for $10. True, more people are visiting the parks increasing revenue, but that raises maintenance costs while jeopardizing the quality of our parks. I agree that a price increase is long overdue, especially with government funding cutbacks. We all love our parks, let's make sure they have adequate funding for proper maintenance and control.
Alan
Palumbos
My husband has had his pass for 18 years, I've had mine for 6 years. We have traveled extensively since retiring in 2005, and it has been $$ well spent. I ALWAYS leave a donation at the visitor center of the park/monument we are visiting (if one exists) so that they get some extra $$. If the grandkids are with us, they love to do the honors.
Linda
Dunger
I fully support this increase. As a long time visitor to national parks we must preserve them. They are our national treasures.
Janie
Crabb
Why the August 28th cut-off? Why didn't this date become effective December 31st so everyone whom turned 62 this year could benefit? There's the other 1/3 of the population who turn 62 this year! Because we were born after August 28, 1955 we have to pay more? This doesn't seem fair!
Greg
Hiebert
Everyone born after Aug 28, 2017 should feel lucky that they are providing additional funding for the parks.
David
Eisner
I've been waiting to get this pass, my birthday is August 31, KARMA ! The parks are beautiful and this wont keep me from going! Such an arbitrary cut off date!
Margaret
Opiela
I for one unfortunately remember why there was originally a $10 fee, because before that, seniors were allowed to go into the parks for free. We were lied to, because we were told the $10 fee would NEVER be increased, because the $10 fee was only to provide for the materials cost, for the vehicle window sticker for your car (but later on for the credit card type pass) and for the cost of the pamphlets handed out to seniors. We were lied to and told that the $10 would NEVER be applied to programs or projects, but was only to cover the cost of the printed materials. The $80 fee which was snuck into the program is a scam, according to the terms of the original agreement to raise the cost from nothing to $10. If you go back and look at the original reason for changing the program from free to $10, it was to cover the cost of printed materials only. Printed materials only... so this original price increase from nothing to $10 was obviously a scam. because now seniors are being required to pay for programs and for projects? Seniors used to get in for free because of the valuable contribution they have made this country for decades. The National Park Service should be ashamed of itself for going back on its promise to NEVER increase the fee to seniors.
Mark
Creager

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