Demand for National Park senior passes taxing supply

    Admission is free to Mt. Rushmore with a senior pass.

    It still costs $10 for a lifetime Senior Pass to American National Parks. But not for long. On August 28, the fee jumps to $80. The pass is available to any U.S. citizen 62 years and older.

    The pass provides free admission to sites managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    Where access is charged per vehicle, everyone riding with the pass holder enters for free — so long as they’re not in a commercial vehicle. The pass typically provides half-price discounts at campgrounds, a huge benefit to RVers.

    Publicity over the dramatic price hike has sent eligible citizens flocking to National Parks and other NPS sites to get one. The demand has been so high that some parks have run out of the passes with only weeks to go before the price hike. Some government agencies have issued vouchers.

    We are seeing incredible demand for the senior passes throughout our park and throughout the entire National Park Service,” Brent Everitt, a park ranger for Gulf Islands National Seashore, said Monday.

    National Parks Service’s chief of public affairs Tom Crosson wrote in an email to The Associated Press that some sites that normally sell only a few hundred passes a year are now “selling that many in a day.”

    According to Crosson, agencies expect to sell up to two million passes by this fall, about two to three times more than last year. Online and mail orders in 2016 were about 33,000 but have surpassed 250,000 so far this year and are expected to surge past 300,000 by the price-hike deadline.

    Seniors who miss out on the $10 pass and younger citizens not yet eligible can buy a $20 annual pass. If the senior keeps the pass after it expires, then buys other annual passes and saves them, when the total paid hits $80 the annual pass becomes a lifetime pass. Those who already have a lifetime senior pass will be grandfathered in.

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    Jimmy Crumpler

    What would be better for the parks is the park pass is just yearly. It cost a lot to keep up all the parks. There is no free lunch


    I use my Senior Pass for half-price campsites at so many Army Corps of Engineers facilities, as well as NPS and Natl Recreation Area facilities, that the $80 for a lifetime pass would be covered in a couple of months at most. If you are actively exploring the USA in your RV, please keep your perspective: even at $80 a lifetime Senior Pass will provide you with great savings.


    The people that have a disability can get their pass free.
    I wonder if that will still be the case after the 28th?


    I turn 62 on August 29th, How’s that for timing

    Don Capellani

    It’s still a bargain at 80 dollars it’s a life time pass. If you can afford a camper 80 husks wouldn’t break you


    At Olympic National Park they offer a rain check. You buy the $10 senior pass and when the passes come in they will mail it to you.

    Nancy and George Zamora

    Where can we buy these passes? We are both seniors. Thanks!

    Debbie Mason

    Mount Rushmore is free. Period. However, the parking is NOT free, even with a senior pass. This is because the concessionaire built the parking facility so they can collect. Even National Park employees have to pay to park in this facility.

    As far as the $20 annual pass – NO. That would be a pass to a single, low-entry-fee US Fee area. The America the Beautiful annual pass is $80. It covers entrance to US Fee areas managed by several agencies, but does NOT reduce other fees.

    As a national park employee I used to buy the America the Beautiful pass every year so we could visit other parks and US Fee areas in our travels. That was before becoming eligible for the Senior Pass and before retirement.


    While these are referred to as “national parks” passes they are honored in all federal fee areas as your second paragraph stated. THAT is the huge benefit of the pass. So if your closest national park runs out, check out other fee areas to see if they have them..


    Miss out at this rate by a few weeks, bummer. Oh well still plan on buying.