At the end of this month my mother in law will be retiring after working for 53 years. Like many pending retirees she has grand plans for her new found freedom. One in particular is the ability to spend more time to traveling. As a self proclaimed National Park advocate, I insisted she immediately purchase the National Park Senior Pass. After the obligatory raise of the eyebrow to the word “senior”, I explained to her all the benefits of this pass and why it is imperative for her to purchase it right away.
1. It's $10. Let that settle in. Yes, the National Park Senior Pass is ten dollars. And did I mention it is for the rest of your life? It literally pays for itself after one visit (most national park entrance fees are $30).
2. As of August 28, the National Park Senior Park lifetime price will increase to a whopping price of $80, which yes, is an 800% increase, but come on...$80. Again, for the rest of your life.
3. If you are not ready to part with $80 at one time, there is an annual pass for $20. Think of it as a payment plan, after four consecutive years, the lifetime pass is all yours.
4. The National Park Senior Pass covers entrance to over 2,000 recreation sites managed by 6 different government agencies: National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers
5. You still need more reasons? Ok, any companions along for the ride get in to the park for free. The general rule is the pass covers the whole non-commercial car, but avoid packing the entire extended family, and keep it to about four passengers.
6. The first $10 million dollars collected, specifically from the National Park Senior Pass annually, will be deposited into the Second Century Endowment for the National Park Service. This money is used to further the mission and purpose of the National Parks, as approved by the Secretary of the Interior. This includes improvement to hiking trails and creating programs to further education at all ages.
7. Purchasing your National Park Senior Pass is incredibly easy:
Already on the road? Purchase the pass at your first National Park.
Not ready to leave yet? Passes are available for purchase online.
Don't want to purchase items online? Print out a mail in application.
Not comfortable mailing your information into the great unknown? See first option.
*please note passes that are mailed (i.e. not purchased in person) do have an additional $10 processing fee.
8. Do you really need two more reasons? Fine, the senior pass provides additional discounts on some amenity fees within the park such as camping and swimming. These can vary by park so be sure to research this prior to your visit.
9. Finally, these are our national parks. There is only so much land left and in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed these are the land we need to protect. They have been deemed by the national government to be some of the most significant and beautiful parts of this nation and too many Americans have yet to see them. So get that pass and hit the road so you can see them for yourself.