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Seeking A $10 Senior Pass To National Parks? You're Far From Alone


News that the lifetime Senior Pass for national park access is jumping in price has spurred a rush of orders/NPS

Sticker shock can be quite compelling, and for the National Park Service, the public's shock over seeing the $10 lifetime Senior Pass jumping to $80 next month has spurred a veritable land rush for the cheap passes.

Congress mandated the price jump late last year when it passed the National Park Service Centennial Act. Under that legislation, the Senior Pass that U.S. citizens and permanent residents can buy for just $10 and use for the rest of their lives jumps to $80 on August 28.

"Since that announcement, our public lands and the website that sells these passes have been overwhelmed with requests to purchase passes before the price change goes in to effect. For our online sales, the previous high for Senior Pass sales in a single year was 33,000 passes. This year so far, we have received more than 250,000 applications for the Senior Pass," said National Park Service chief spokesman Thomas Crosson. "To help mitigate this unprecedented backlog, we are expediting the printing and distribution of hundreds of thousands of passes to our point of sale sites as well as temporarily increasing the staff at our online processing center to assist with the backlog of order requests.

"To further reduce the backlog of purchase requests and to allow visitors to utilize their Senior Passes, the six land management agencies who honor the Senior Pass will accept the receipt generated from the online sale of the pass as proof of pass ownership until the backlog is cleared. Eligible guests who purchase a Senior Pass online can now bring their order confirmation along with photo ID, to one of the more than 2,000 sites and parks that accept the pass."

Since many units of the National Park System also sell the passes at their gates and visitor centers, the shortage of the new passes has led parks that ran out to issue "rain checks."

"Purchasers can access parks with the rain check until they can exchange it for the Senior Pass," said Mr. Crosson.

The Senior Pass will continue to cover all entrance fees and standard amenity (day use) fees and may provide senior discounts for things such as tours or campsites. The pass also waives the entrance fee for traveling companions. At per-vehicle fee sites, the pass admits the pass holder and all passengers in a noncommercial vehicle. At a per-person fee site, the pass admits the pass holder and three other adults. It will also still apply to sites managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

While the onslaught has been somewhat crippling, administratively, it also has generated a small windfall for the national parks. The Centennial Act legislation stipulates that up to $10 million generated from all Park Service sales of America The Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes be deposited into a Second Century Endowment for the National Park Service to be managed by the National Park Foundation.

Any revenues above $10 million would be deposited in a Centennial Challenge fund for projects in the parks. However, they would need to be matched by private dollars before they could be spent as the legislation is written.

Traveler footnote: National Parks Traveler is NOT connected with the National Park Service. If you have a question about Senior Passes or any other annual park passes, you can find the National Park Service's Frequently Asked Questions here. If you lose your pass, you'll have to buy a new one. Also, you cannot purchase a Senior Pass before you turn 62. So if your birthday is after August 27, you'll have to pay the new, higher fee.


What windfall?  $10 x 250k = $2.5 million   $80 x 30k = $2.4 million.  You'd raise more money over 2/3 years by increasing the fee pronto.

I think we can put the "overcrowding" stories on hold for a while when 250,000 people are hauling 40' RVs in on these $10 passes

Where can I go in person to purchase this Senior pass

I ordered a Pass a while ago and I was wondering if it wentv through?

You'll find ways to purchase the pass if you click on the FAQs linked above.

Sandy on July 28, 2017 - 12:10pm.

Where can I go in person to purchase this Senior pass

The list is right here:

It's a lot of different locations.  Some don't specifically have entrance fees, but they may have amenities fees (camping, boat launch, paid tours) where a senior pass might have a 50% discount or where parking fees might be covered by a valid pass on a hang tag.

Some of these locations are running out though.  Some are administrative offices like the Cleveland National Forest main office in San Diego, which isn't actually in Cleveland National Forest.  A lot of the locations are field offices in small to large towns.

any federal fee area that sells passes or charges an entry fee. Also many National Forest offices and even by mail 

took about three months to receive the pass I ordered by mail. They were very organized and emailed me when it been shipped. 

Would like to know how to get total disablea senior national  park pass,I am total disable..

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