National Parks Pass Cost About to Skyrocket for Seniors

Hey, with a maintenance backlog of almost $12 billion, the feds are asking everyone to step up.

One of the best deals in public lands is the National Park Service lifetime pass for seniors (those age 62 and up)—for just $10, you get access to more than 2,000 locations, for the rest of your life, and your companions get in free. And that’s been the price since 1994. But things are about to change dramatically: On August 28, 2017, the cost increases to $80. (It also goes up for military retirees, too.)

That’s not a ton of money, but it’s a huge percentage increase, and if you’re on a fixed budget, well, you know—once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You can thank the National Park Service Centennial Act, which was passed last December and was sponsored by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop. The Utah Republican has not generally been a friend to federal public lands, but the bill was designed to provide desperately need money for the NPS, and it had rare bipartisan support.

The act ties the cost of the senior pass to the price of the annual pass the youngins pay (which means if the annual pass goes up in the future, so, too, does the senior pass). Money raised by the sale of senior passes goes into an endowment called the National Park Service Second Century Fund—estimated by the NPS to bring in about $20 million a year.

Don’t want a lifetime pass? You’ll be able to purchase an annual pass for $20, and once you’ve bought four they can be converted to a lifetime e-ticket.

In addition to national parks and monuments, the pass provides access to lands administered by Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service, and Army Corps of Engineers.

Turning 62? Already there? Get your lifetime pass here.

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.
Showing 4 comments
  • Dan Murphy

    Got mine last year and used the hell out of it doing the great circle route around the country. Still a huge deal at 80 bucks.

  • Lou P.

    I bought my senior pass the day after my birthday three years ago. It paid for itself before the month was over. If you visit parks with any frequency it’s a great deal at $10 or $80. I’m happy I paid $10, but wouldn’t flinch at $80. (Although I don’t trust any idea of Rob Bishop.)

  • John Tallent

    OK, I admit I am sort of lazy these days with construction at our place here at 8,100 just off the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests, but what about those of us who already have the senior pass.
    Would not mind forking over some more in order to keep it since the lady and I are planning on doing some visiting now that we are retired and the construction will be completed (hopefully) in late summer.
    We do have a bucket list with relatives nearby so we can combine our pleasures.

  • JT

    “Skyrocket”???? $80 is still an awesome deal.

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