The U.S. National Parks Senior Pass has been one of the best bargains on the planet for 25 years. That’s about to change. But there’s still time to get yours—cheap! Find out how to do it and why you should.
But Do They Really Have to Call us “Seniors”??
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I hate the word “senior,” unless it’s referring to an upperclassman in high school or college. When I think of “senior citizens,” I think of my mother at the end of her life (she lived to be 97). Even she then acknowledged that she was, uh, “old.” The word makes me think of free lunches at the “Senior Center” and the other women who shared my mom’s table at her Senior Independent Living Home.
Not that there is anything wrong with any of those places, mind you. I think they’re a great option for many people who are getting up into the high digits. But for those of us Nomad Women who feel like we are still in the prime of our lives at 65 or 75, the term can be, well, jarring. We are women who travel the globe, who seek out adventures and deep travel experiences. We live large and love it. We don’t think of ourselves as “senior” anythings.
On the other hand, I have always been more than willing to accept the financial benefits occasionally offered by my age. Yes, ladies (and gents), the “Senior Discount” is your friend. Which bring us to the topic of this post.
For mature lovers of “America’s Best Idea”—the U.S. National Parks system—there’s good news… and a bit not so good.
The U.S. National Parks Senior Pass–Bargain of a Lifetime
The good news? If you’re a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident age 62 or older, you can still visit every National Park in the country for a one-time fee with a National Parks Senior Pass. For the rest of your life. That is not going to change.
Currently, the National Parks Senior Pass, costs just $10 for lifetime access. It will continue to be available at that price until October 1, 2017. This pass has been one of the greatest bargains in the country for older Americans for the last quarter of a century.
The bad news? That bargain price is about to change. It you want to jump on this bargain, you need to do it soon.
Uh-Oh, the Price of the National Parks Senior Pass is About to Skyrocket
As of October 1, the price of the National Parks Senior Pass will go up. A lot. In fact, there will be an 8-fold increase. That’s right, an 800% rise in the price. The now $10 price for the lifetime pass will go to $80.
That price will still be a bargain, considering that many of the larger and most impressive parks charge up to $30 in entrance fees. So visiting 3 of these parks with the pass means it will have paid for itself and then some. And your savings are locked in until the day you die. Also, you’ll be able to opt to pay $20 for a one year Senior Pass. The next year, you can do the same. Once you’ve purchased four $20 annual Senior Passes, you can convert them to an $80 lifetime pass.
But here’s the age-old question. Why pay more? If you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is now or will be 62 before October 1, 2017, you can still get that coveted pass for ten bucks—the bargain of a lifetime.
Get Your National Parks Senior Pass NOW
The steep hike in the pass cost was a little-discussed provision of the National Parks Centennial Act, which received bipartisan support in the U.S. House and unanimous consent in the Senate when it was passed in December, 2016. The law was intended to help fund the nearly $12 billion in repairs currently needed to park infrastructure, including deteriorating buildings and unmaintained trails. It will also help fund education programs for young people to learn more about the parks and their unparalleled place in our national history and culture.
Since the price hike goes into effect in October, 2017, there is still plenty of time to get your pass at the current $10 price. And boy, is it worth it!
The Many Benefits of a National Parks Senior Pass
Here’s a look at what that ten bucks gets you:
— Free admission to more than 2000 U.S. federal recreation sites nationwide, including National Parks, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, National Wildlife Refuges and many National Forest lands.
— Free admission for anyone traveling with a pass holder in a non-commercial vehicle when there is a per-vehicle fee.
— Free admission for up to three accompanying adults, no matter their age, when the admission fee is per person (children under 16 are always admitted free).
— Discounts on many park related fees, including some camping spots. It also gives you discounts of up to 50% on many federal use fees charged for swimming, boat launching, parking, and tours.
— It’s good for the rest of your life—one fee forever.
How to Buy a National Parks Senior Pass
The best way to get your Senior Pass is in person at any national park, national forest, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office. You’ll be asked to show ID proving your age. Ten dollars later, you’re out the door with your lifetime pass in hand. (Hint: Don’t lose it. It is not replaceable.)
If there is no park or other pass locale near you and you’re not planning to visit one before October 1, 2017, you can buy the the Senior Pass online. It will cost you an extra $10 in processing fees, effectively doubling the price to $20, but it’s still a great bargain. This is a “Senior Perk” you don’t want to miss.
To order your National Parks Senior Pass online, visit the National Parks store here.
So go get out there, Nomad Women (and family and friends). Go “See the USA”—whether in your Chevrolet, Honda, Mercedes or even a Smart Car! Or load up the RV and head on out. The U.S. National Parks have rightly been called “America’s Best Idea.” You need to go experience them. And with the U.S. National Parks Senior Pass, you can go from north to Alaska, to see Denali, or down to the Dry Tortugas off the Florida Keys. You can see the Hawai’i Volcanoes and visit Acadia National Park in Maine. And all those 2000 beautiful, natural, historic places in between.
And once you’ve got that precious pass, you can do it all for free.
A Small Taste of What You Can See….