8x Price Increase For Senior National Park Passes Starts August 28th

Filed Under: Advice, Travel

Late last year I posted about how the Seniors Pass for the National Parks is really an amazing deal. To recap, this is the pass that admits those 62 and older into our national parks and monuments for free. In fact, it not only admits the pass holder, but also anyone traveling in the same vehicle, regardless of their age. It’s really an incredible deal.

Perhaps the best part is that the cost of the pass has been just $10, and hasn’t changed since 1994. But last December, we learned that the price would increase drastically to $80 as part of the National Park Centennial Act that President Obama signed. Even so, we didn’t know when the price was going up, just that it was supposed to happen this year. Well, now we know the date that the price goes up.

Price of Senior Pass increasing August 28, 2017

The National Parks Service has now announced that the new price for the Seniors Pass will go into effect on August 28, 2017.

That means you have a bit more than a month to lock in your lifetime benefits for just $10. If you’re 62 and still haven’t purchased your Senior Pass, I would suggest doing it immediately, as there will probably be a rush as the end of August gets closer.

National Parks Senior Pass

How do I get a Senior Pass?

It’s pretty easy to get the pass and there are two ways to go about it:

In the past, I would have advised seniors to pick up the pass at the first site they visited after turning 62. That process is generally easier and doesn’t involve any paperwork since they just confirm your eligibility and issue you a pass on the spot.

The other option is to buy it online. In this case, you need to include a copy of a photo ID so they can verify your age. They also charge a $10 processing in addition to the $10 fee for the pass, effectively doubling the price. Even so, for those who don’t live near a National Park, this is probably the best option.

Our (much smaller) family at Denali National Park during Road Lottery

Where can you use the Parks Pass?

The Department of the Interior (National Parks and Monuments) and the Department of Agriculture (National Forests) finally got their act together and started issuing a common pass several years ago. That eliminated a lot of the confusion about where you could and could not use your pass.

Nowadays, they are generally good at National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, National Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas, and so on. Here’s the official language:

The Pass can be used at over 2000 Federal recreation sites across the nation, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands. The Senior Pass admits the Pass owner and any passengers traveling with him/her in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or the Pass owner and three additional adults where per-person fees are charged. The Senior Pass may also offer a discount on some expanded amenity fees, such as camping. Discounts offered by the Pass vary widely across the many different types of recreation sites. Pass owners are encouraged to check with sites they plan to visit before obtaining a pass to verify that their Pass will be accepted. Anytime a Pass is used, photo identification will be requested to verify Pass ownership.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

My Dad’s experience with the Senior Pass

I’m not yet 62 so I don’t have a pass. But my Dad loves his and has used it all over the country. Truth be told, I think it was one of his favorite things about turning 62!

And we love to travel with him and my mom because it gets my family free admission too, assuming we can all squeeze into the vehicle.

Bottom line

You have through August 27, 2017 to beat the price increase and get your Senior Pass for just $10. On August 28, the price will jump to $80.

I highly suggest ordering your pass today to avoid a mad rush at the deadline. And for those who won’t turn 62 until September, I feel for you.

Have you ordered your Senior Pass yet?

  1. Both of my parents got one, it works great when they drive and we drive, just put one grandparent in each car. They love traveling with us and we love the park entry! We used this just a month ago at Zion Nat’l Park. @travis, if your mom is 62 pick one up for her too.

  2. You can also buy them at other types of sites(National Wildlife Refuge, National Forest, etc).

    Access Passes(for the permanently disabled) have the same benefits as Senior Passes, are lifetime, and are still free. You can apply for these in person, even at sites that don’t charge entry fees. Physical, mental, and sensory disabilities are included(https://store.usgs.gov/node/141).


    On both sites there is a link to a PDF that lists every site that issues Passes(all types) as of 6/1/17. Only 5 sites on the list don’t issue Access Passes. 77 sites on the list don’t issue Senior Passes.

  3. National Parks are a great way to take a break from points hotels and experience some awesome scenery and outdoor activity.

  4. If you already have a senior park pass (free for life) is it still good and remain in effect for the future or do I need to order a new one at $20 online? That was not clear to me from the information provided. Thanks very much, the park pass is great and if I need a new one I don’t want to wait too long to order.

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