Did you know that if you are a senior citizen you can now obtain a lifetime pass to visit any of the many U.S. National Parks as many times and as often as you wish? That sure sounds good, doesn’t it? Here’s how you can get one.
In this article, we will show everything you need to know to get your hands on a senior pass.
Who Can Get A National Parks Senior Pass?
The good news is that if you are either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the United States and are 62 years of age or over, you could get a lifetime senior pass.
Although you may purchase an annual senior pass for $20, the lifetime pass only costs $90 (the actual pass costs $80 but there is a $10 handling fee attached).
So, for just an extra $50 you could have unlimited access to all the national parks and federal recreational lands for the rest of your life instead of for just 12 months.
You can purchase your lifetime pass in person at any national park or recreational land, by mailing your application form and waiting to receive the pass at your home address (or the address you provide on your form), or online.
What Are the Conditions for A National Parks Senior Pass?
Apart from being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of 62 or over, there are a few other conditions that you need to meet in order to get your Lifetime or annual senior pass.
You must provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate that you are both 62 or over and that you are indeed a resident or a citizen of the United States.
If you submit your application on the mail, you must include the full $90 with all the other documentation required. If you request the pass in person at a National park or recreation land, then you would be able to pay either cash or with a debit or credit card. If you do it online, then you will need to do with a debit or credit card as it is typically the case with any other online purchase.
If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way. – Bill Bryson
At this point, it is important to note that the fees ($80 plus $90) are nonrefundable and nontransferable. So, if you change your mind after you have purchased your lifetime senior pass, you will not receive a refund. Also, importantly, if you misplace your pass (or if it is stolen, etc.), you will need to buy a new one because passes cannot be replaced under any circumstances.
What Are the Benefits Attached to Carrying a Lifetime Senior Pass?
Once you have received your Lifetime Senior Pass, you will have unlimited access to all national parks and federal recreation lands. Sometimes, depending on the park, the lifetime senior pass will also provide a 50 percent discount on amenity fees. For example, swimming, camping, or boating. But you will need to check this with the park in question as it is not always the case for all parks or all amenities.
For the Lifetime Senior Pass to be valid you must present it together with a valid photo ID so that your identity can be confirmed. You may not use someone else’s Senior pass. Each person must have their own passes and there are all kinds not just for senior citizens but also for disabled people, kids in the 4th grade, volunteers, active duty personnel in the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, or Marines.
What Parks Can I Visit for Free with My Lifetime Senior Pass?
Here is the full list of sites you may visit with your Lifetime Senior Pass, by state or territory:
- Glacier Bay.
- Kenai Fjords.
- Lake Clark.
- Wrangell-St. Elias.
- Kobuk Valley.
- Gates of the Arctic.
- American Samoa.
- Petrified Forest.
- Grand Canyon.
- Hot Springs.
- Redwood National Park.
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
- Sequoia National Park.
- Joshua Tree National Park.
- The Channel Islands.
- Kings Canyon.
- Point Reyes National Seashore.
- Yosemite National Park.
- Pinnacles National Park.
- Lassen Volcanic.
- Death Valley.
- Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Mesa Verde.
- Great Sand Dunes.
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
- Dry Tortugas.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
- Mammoth Cave.
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
- Acadia National Park.
- Isle Royale.
- Gateway Arch.
- Glacier National Park.
- Great Basin.
- Carlsbad Caverns.
- Theodore Roosevelt.
- Cuyahoga Valley
- Crater Lake.
- Wind Cave.
Tennessee and North Carolina:
- The Great Smoky Mountains.
- Big Bend.
- The Guadalupe Mountains.
U.S. Virgin Islands:
- Virgin Islands National Park.
- Bryce Canyon.
- Capitol Reef.
- Mount Rainier.
- North Cascades.
- Grand Teton.
Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho:
Apart from all these National Parks, a Lifetime Senior Pass will also be valid for visiting federal recreational lands across the country. But it will not be valid for State parks, only for national or federal lands.
The federal recreational lands include America‘s Byways such as the Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway-Route 110, or the Death Valley Scene Byway in California; Marine sanctuaries such as the Olympic Coast and Monterey Bay on the West Coast, or Thunder Bay in the Great Lakes Region; national forests such as Angeles National Forest, Boise National Forest, or the San Bernardino National Forest; National Monuments such as the Devil’s Tower in New Mexico; and the National Wildlife Refuges.
If you would like more information about all the other passes available (annual, disabled, military, etc.), you should visit the U.S. National Park Service website.