Understanding the National Park Senior Pass Rate Increase

Dave L. receiving a lifetime pass at Yosemite National Park – Lisa Lopez, Share Your Story

The cost of the lifetime national park senior pass increased on August 28, 2017. The price is now $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 U.S. citizens or permanent residents 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. It cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

Why did the price increase?

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.

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. 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]

Last updated February 26, 2021.


I don't waste my money on those tourist traps. And the NPS shouldn't be competing with those scheisters either!
Other amusements are owned by others. The National parks belong to us and we own them. I hate to see fees rise to the point that it restricts people from enjoying their own resources. Too bad that the people in control of our treasury (Senators and Congresspeople) don't prioritize for these National treasures. $80 is cheap for a lifetime pass, but the burden of taking care of our parks belong to all of us, as public lands enriches us all.
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.
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".
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
I turn 62 on January 8. How soon can I order one online so I can start using it then.
What about those of us who already have lifetime passes -- are they still valid?
Yes. Still valid. See the second sentence of the article! Don't lose it though - a new one will cost you the $80!
I do wish they would keep records of what a senior purchased as mine was just stolen my whole wallet in fact from my purse at work even. Crooks got into the back room and stole from 3 of us and there went my senior pass. Not sure I can afford to replace it. I am hoping that maybe it will just show up, I guess I will not be re purchasing it I would like to be able to request a new one. Both my husband and I had one but he passed away so can not use his either. They are great so I will miss owning one.
I have a Senior Pass purchased on August 10, 2018. Can I use it to go into Glacier National Park on August 2, 2019 or do I need to purchase a new one? I have no documentation of the purchase date except for my daily calendar and my card is punched for August so I am not sure if they consider it expiring on the first of the month or the last of the month???
I have a Senior pass purchased in 2014 ($10.00 then) and used it a Glacier that fall, and every other Natl. Park we've been to since. I've read it's not valid for Mt. Rushmore, but that's the only one I know of. The Senior pass has no expiration date, so you do not need to get another.
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.
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.
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.
Mt Rushmore has a kiosk where you get a discount if a Senior.
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
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?
So few National Parks in the New England area, not really worth 80 dollars. I hope I don't lose my pass.
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
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
Hello! I wrote a blog post about this last year ... now, it seems that your link to the list of parks where you can get the pass is broken. I did find a new link for that list - it's here >> https://store.usgs.gov/s3fs-public/PassIssuanceList.pdf
Twin Oaks
RV Park in Georgia
Thank you for posting the new link for the list of where to buy a pass. I used it tonight and the pdf said it was last updated 7/3/2019.
My credit card bill shows you have chartered me $20. But I don't receive any document from you, even receipt. What happened?
The same thing happened to me. I remember getting the application and sending it in with $20.00 but have since lost track of ti Can you look it up and tell me the status??
me either!!!!
Ordered mine online Aug. 28 (before mn). Did not receive an email or the pass.
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]
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.
I agree with you. I'm disabled and paid 10 $ in 2019 now they want me to pay $80 for a new pass when I never even got my 1st park pass in the mail to begin with. But they got my money and wont return it.


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