If you travel, even infrequently, a visit to any of this nation’s national parks will often be the highlight of the trip. Many are surprised that there is an admittance fee charged, even if you just drive through. Only 180 of the 400+ National Parks do charge admittance fees, but that includes most of the most famous ones like Yellowstone, Death Valley, Gettysburg and Yosemite.

Yellowstone (photo by tpsdave)

For seniors (age 62+), there’s a cost effective alternative, but you’ll need to act quickly.  The $10 fee goes up 800% on August 27th.

The National Park Service has been issuing senior passes for some time now.  I bought one back in 2009, and it’s paid for itself many times over.  Even better, the pass includes admission for all the passengers you can stuff in your car or camper.  You’ll also get discounts at many venues for 50% swimming, camping, etc. The pass provides access to over 2,000 sites operated by six Federal agencies:

·       National Park Service

·       U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

·       Bureau of Land Management

·       Bureau of Reclamation

·       U.S. Forest Service

·       U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Gettysburg image by techfun

If you want to order online, it’ll be $10 plus a $10 processing fee, and you can order it here.  If you go to one of the parks that accept the pass, you can purchase it there without the processing fee, but you’ll need to bring proof of age and a government issued ID.  Here’s is a PDF list of places where you can go to purchase the pass without the $10 handling fee.  (The link on the senior page has the wrong hyperlink.)

If you plan to go and get your pass at one of the parks, be sure to contact the park first.  Phone numbers and websites can be checked here.  It’s been reported that those with passes will only be able to sell the ones they have on hand, and won’t be getting any more, so call before you go to avoid disappointment.

Denali image by skeeze

Denali image by skeeze

Here’s the gotcha!   The price is going to increase to $80 on August 27, 2017.  With the processing fee, it’ll cost $90.  Starting August 27th, they will start issuing a senior annual pass for $20, but that will only last you 365 days; so if you anticipate traveling anytime in the foreseeable future, get it together now and save big.

Here’s a link to the application – so get going.

Don’t want to pay anything at all? Check this list of parks that offer free admission on select dates, and then plan accordingly.

(All images from Pixabay.com)


Also published on Medium.