Since 1994, seniors have been given the ability to purchase a $10 Lifetime Senior Pass to visit National Parks throughout the United States. This reasonable one-time fee has greatly benefited seniors, particularly those on fixed incomes, by providing a way to explore recreational areas without breaking the bank. The Lifetime Senior Pass is usable at 2,000 plus recreation sites managed by the following agencies; National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The cost of the pass is about to increase. Here’s what you need to know:
The cost of the lifetime pass for seniors age 62 or older is slated to increase on August 28, 2017 from $10 to $80. 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. Funds will be managed by the National Park Foundation, a congressionally authorized philanthropic partner and the official charity of the National Park Service. Monies spent on projects and activities will be approved by the Secretary of Interior to further the mission and purposes of National Park Services.
If you already own a pass, all of your benefits will remain the same. However, if you’re thinking of getting a lifetime pass, now is the optimal time to do it before the price dramatically increases. Seniors may purchase passes online or through the mail from USGS. However, online and mail orders are not necessarily the best choice due to high demand and slower processing, now currently taking up to nine weeks long. Additionally, there is a $10 processing fee tacked on to online and mail orders. Thus, your best bet is to go in person (before August 28th) to any local federal recreation site, including national parks, that charge entrance or day-use fees. Along with the $10 fee for a senior pass, bring proof of age and residency to complete your purchase.
When the price increases, seniors on fixed incomes should not lose hope. An annual pass may still be purchased for $20. Additionally, seniors who purchase annual passes for four years in a row may convert their pass to a lifetime senior pass. Citizens with permanent disabilities may continue to receive free Lifetime Access Passes. Volunteers may also receive passes after the accumulation of 250 hours of service.