If you're like many people, touring several of America's 63 U.S. national parts may be part of your retirement travel plans. Whether you plan to visit U.S. national parks for years to come or during one long, memorable vacation, the national parks pass for seniors is a must-have to save money so you'll have extra funds to spend on gas, sightseeing and more.
What Is the National Parks Pass for Seniors?
Entry fees at national parks range from $35 to $70, depending on location, but you can save big bucks with a senior pass.
Permanent U.S. citizens or those with a U.S. driver's license, green card or passport who are 62 years or older can purchase the senior pass. The lifetime pass costs $80 and allows access to all 63 of the U.S. national parks, including popular bucket-list destinations like the Grand Canyon. If you don't need a lifetime pass, there's also a $20 annual pass option.
When you buy the senior pass, up to 100% of proceeds from the pass fee and entrance fees are used to improve services and visitor experiences at U.S. national parks and other federal recreation sites. Eager to buy a senior pass because you're turning 62 later this year? If so, you'll have to wait to purchase until after your birthday since you can't buy the pass before you're actually 62 years old.
What the National Parks Pass for Seniors Includes
In addition to waived entrance fees to U.S. National Parks, the senior pass has other benefits, too. It waives day-use entrance fees at 2,000+ recreation sites managed by these federal agencies:
- National Park Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- USDA Forest Service
- US Army Corps of Engineers
The national parks pass for seniors also gives the pass holder access to discounts at many sites on fees for expanded amenities such as camping, guided tours and boat launching.
Is There a Veteran's Discount?
The National Parks Service military pass gives U.S. military veterans free entrance to 2,000 federal recreation areas, including U.S. national parks. If you're a veteran, you don't need to apply for a paper pass. Just show one of these forms of I.D. to gain free entrance:
- Department of Defense I.D. card
- Veteran health identification card
- Veteran I.D. card
- State driver's license with veteran's designation
How Many People Does My Pass Cover?
At national parks and other included federal areas that charge a "per-vehicle" fee for entry, the entrance fee is waived for the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle. At per-person fee sites, the fee is waived for the pass holder and up to three additional adult passengers.
How To Get the National Parks Pass for Seniors
Purchase a lifetime or annual national parks pass for seniors at participating Federal recreation sites or offices, or buy a senior pass online (for an additional $10 processing fee) by uploading proof of age and residency.
If you have expired annual national parks senior passes, dig them out of your keepsake box and cash them in to knock down the cost of a lifetime pass. For example, turn in two old annual passes at $20 each, and you'll pay only $40 for one lifetime pass. Exchange expired annual passes for a lifetime pass in person at agencies participating in the federal lands pass program and federal recreation sites that distribute the lifetime national parks pass for seniors.
Begin Your Adventure
Once you have your pass for seniors, look up U.S. national parks at the National Park Service. Check out the National Parks Service's "plan your visit" page for upcoming national park events. Then explore national park destinations and senior-friendly amenities.
Maybe you'd like to take a guided shuttle tour of parts of the Grand Canyon. Other older adult-friendly national park activities include IMAX theater showings, ranger presentations, boat tours, wildlife sightings and easy-to-moderate hiking trails.
For more information on the national parks pass for seniors, visit usgs.gov under "senior pass."