One of the advantages of living in the United States is the National Park System. Championed by Teddy Roosevelt, and established by Woodrow Wilson, they’re the nation’s crown jewels. Our country has some of the most iconic parks on the planet. There’s the Grand Canyon, the Hawai’i Volcanoes, and Yellowstone. Each has its own charm and personality.
With so many different national parks, it may seem impossible to see them all. If you want to, though, you have an ace in the hole — the America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.
What Can I See with the Senior Pass?
The America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (the Senior Pass for short) gives you access to it all. The Senior Pass covers entrance fees and the standard day-use recreation fees at more than 2,000 sites around the country. The pass gives you access to sites managed by:
- The National Park Service;
- US Fish & Wildlife Service;
- The Bureau of Land Management;
- Bureau of Reclamation;
- US Forest Service; and
- The US Army Corps of Engineers.
The Senior Pass is accepted at any of the 118 locations with an entrance or standard amenity fee. The other 299 National Park sites, as well as many other locations, don’t have an entrance fee. If the entrance fee is per vehicle, the pass covers the pass holder and the occupants of the non-commercial vehicle. If it’s a per person entrance fee, it covers the pass holder and three other adults.
The Senior Pass covers your entry to the 118 state parks with entrance or standard amenity fees.
They can also give discounts on certain recreation fees at some locations. These recreation fees may include services like camping, swimming, or access to a boat launch. Other sites discount amenity fees for facilities. The Senior Pass does not cover special recreation permit fees or concessions, however.
How Much Will It Cost?
One of the benefits of the Senior Pass is the affordability. There are two types of Senior Passes. The first is the lifetime pass, which gives you permanent access to the benefits of the pass. It’s available for the one-time fee of only $80. There is also a one-time $10 handling charge for passes ordered online or by mail. The price of the lifetime pass increased in 2017 but passes purchased before that are still honored.
The lifetime pass gives you permanent access to the parks for the one-time fee of $80.
If you’re on a fixed income or don’t have $80 to spend right now, you have a second option. You can opt for an annual pass which is good for one year for $20. It offers the same benefits as the lifetime pass, but with an annual fee. If you go the annual pass route, after four years, you can exchange your annual passes in for a lifetime pass. All senior passes are non-transferable.
One of the upsides of purchasing a Senior Pass is what the government does with your money. A full 100 percent of the proceeds from the passes are used to maintain, improve, and enhance visitor recreation experiences and services. In this way, you’re doing your part to keep America beautiful.
How Do I Get One?
The Senior Pass is available to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who’s 62 or older.
The Senior Pass is available to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who’s 62 or older. When applying, you must also provide verification of your identity and citizenship or permanent residency. This includes a driver’s license, U.S. passport, or a permanent resident card (green card). You can pick one up online, through the mail, or at a federal recreation site like those that site pass gives you access to. This makes it easier than ever to pick up a pass and see the country!
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The National Parks of the United States are the gem in the crown of America. These majestic landscapes, forests, and fields forged the country that we know and love today. With the help of the National Park Senior Pass, it’s possible to see and celebrate each and every one. For only $80, you can explore the National Parks from sea to shining sea for the rest of your life.