Everything to Know About the National Park Pass for Seniors

Including the benefits, cost, and how to obtain one.

An elderly man photographing while standing with wife at the Grand Canyon

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The National Park Service (NPS) has created a variety of passes, both annual and lifetime, to encourage Americans to visit national parks, monuments, and federal recreational lands. The passes are honored at sites managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Park Service. 

A series of passes, including the Senior Pass, all come under the heading of America the Beautiful — the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Also referred to as Interagency Passes, they can be obtained at a wide range of federal recreation areas or through the USGS online store

The Senior Pass can be purchased as a lifetime pass with no expiration date or as an annual pass, which costs less. The annual fee increased in 1987, raising the cost of a lifetime pass from $10 to $80. The legislation also provided for the annual pass at a lower cost. Here are some key details on the Senior Pass.

Qualifications: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, as well as 62 years or older. Documentation of age and residency or citizenship are required.

Cost: $80 for a lifetime Senior Pass; $20 for an annual Senior Pass.

Terms: The lifetime Senior Pass does not expire, while the annual Senior Pass is valid for 12 months from the month of purchase. “Golden Age Passports” have been replaced by the Senior Pass, and they continue to be honored. 

How to Obtain a Senior Pass: Both annual and lifetime Senior Passes may be purchased directly through the USGS. The site includes the information and documentation needed to apply, including the application. The passes can also be obtained by mail using an application form or in person at one of the federal locations with proof of age and citizenship or residence. (There's an additional cost of $10 for passes purchased online or by mail.)

Benefits: The Senior Pass provides entrance for the pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle. In addition, at many sites, the Senior Pass provides the pass owner with a discount on expanded amenity fees such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours.

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