Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Last Call for Senior Passes

Grand Canyon

I’ll quote from an Escapees.com emailed notification:

On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80. This increase is a result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the US Congress on December 16, 2016 and is the first increase since 1994.

The lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:

  • National Park Service
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Forest Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees. For more details about the pass, visit Changes to the Senior Pass.

To purchase this pass any federal recreation site, including national parks, that charges an entrance or standard amenity (day-use) fee. You can also purchase online or through the mail from USGS; an additional $10 processing fee will be added to the price. Visit the USGS store.

My advice: even if you already have a senior pass, don’t toss it just anywhere or put it in a “safe place”, where you’ll never be able to rediscover just where that might have been. Put it somewhere logical, handy and out of plain sight, preferably the first place you’d naturally reach for as you roll up to a park entrance.

And then from the National Park Service itself:

Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?
The price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass is increasing as result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the US Congress on December 16, 2016.

When was the last time the price increased for the Senior Pass?
The Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994.

How much is it increasing?
The lifetime Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80.

Why $80?
The legislation states that the cost of the lifetime Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the annual America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80.

What if a senior citizen is on a fixed budget?
The legislation also establishes an annual Senior Pass for $20. That pass is valid for one year from the date of issuance. Four annual Senior Passes purchased in prior years can be traded in for a lifetime pass. Additionally, access to the majority of National Park Service sites remains free—only 118 of 417 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.

What if I have a current Senior Pass?
The current passes are lifetime passes and will remain valid.

Will the benefits of my Senior Pass change?
No. All benefits of the current Senior Pass stay the same.

What if my current Senior Pass is lost or stolen?
Passes are non-refundable and non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
If lost or stolen, a new pass will need to be purchased.

Who is eligible for a Senior Pass?
US citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible for the Senior Pass.

What does the Senior Pass provide?
Annual and lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:

  • National Park Service
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Forest Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees.

Are there any other benefits from a Senior Pass?
Yes, traveling companions can also enter for free. The Senior Passes admit pass owner/s and passengers in a noncommercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass owner plus three adults, not to exceed four adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free.) Also, at many sites, the Senior Passes provide the pass owner (only) a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours).

How can I purchase a Senior Pass?
Senior Passes can be purchased at any federal recreation site, including national parks, that charges an entrance or standard amenity (day-use) fee. Proof of age and residency is required. See the complete list of sites where the pass is available (PDF).

Passes can also be purchased online or through the mail from USGS; an additional $10 processing fee will be added to the price. Visit the USGS store to buy the pass online or find instructions for purchasing by mail.

Will the money from the sales of Senior Passes sold in national parks benefit the National Park Service?
Yes, the funds from all Senior Passes purchased in a national park will go to a National Park Foundation Endowment and a National Park Centennial Challenge Fund, both authorized by the Centennial Legislation.

What is the National Park Foundation Endowment?
The first $10 million collected by the National Park Service in each fiscal year from Senior Pass sales will be deposited in the Second Century Endowment for the National Park Service managed by the National Park Foundation. The foundation is the congressionally authorized philanthropic partner, or official charity, of the National Park Service. Funds within the Second Century Endowment will be expended on projects and activities approved by the Secretary of Interior to further the mission and purpose of the National Park Service.

What is the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund?
All revenues collected from sales by the National Park Service of National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes, including the Senior Pass, that are in excess of $10 million will be deposited in the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund. The funds will be used for projects and programs approved by the Secretary of the Interior to the mission of the National Park Service and to enhance the visitor experience in National Park System units. Projects and programs will require at least a one-to-one match by non-federal donations.

Where will the money go if I purchase a Senior Pass from another agency?
Eighty to one hundred percent of funds from Senior Passes sold by the other five agencies will be retained by the site where they are sold and spent on visitor-related projects and programs.

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6 thoughts on “Last Call for Senior Passes

  1. I’m not one who enjoys birthday celebrations with the exception of personal reflections. On my recently past 62nd birthday my big treat was to drive to the closest federal land where a purchase of the pass was possible. It was a most enjoyable birthday celebration if I do say so myself. I have to wonder if it wouldn’t behoove me to purchase another while the price is cheap as surely I’ll lose the one I have before my biological alarm clock doesn’t go off some morning. Surely.

  2. It is such a good feeling to drive up to an entry gate to a national park, or seashore or national whatever, hand them the America The Beautiful pass (& your picture ID) instead of $25 or $30 and they smile, hand you the map/brochure and wish you a pleasant visit.
    $80 is what a pass that’s good for a year costs the public, so getting one that lasts forever is still a good deal. Getting it for $10 is a GREAT deal.

    I went to Ft Vancouver historical site in Vancouver WA on my 62nd birthday to buy mine.
    Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Lake Mead NRA, Glen Canyon NRA, Gulf Islands national sea shore and The Olympic National Park yesterday are a just a few of the places I’ve flashed my pass & gotten in to see.

    • Each park I enter, I notice the entry ticket prices and keep thinking that my AtB pass won’t be accepted. Then after it is, I either wonder if they made a mistake or feel like I just got away with something!

  3. Linda Sand on said:

    I’m cheap. But, even the $80 one time fee feels like a bargain to me. After all, we do want them to have money to maintain these parks, right? Of course, that’s easy for me to say since I got my pass many years ago. And mine is a disability pass so I’m not sure I even paid $10 for mine.

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