The national parks of the United States are true treasures. From forests to canyons to mountainous areas to hot springs to grasslands to beaches and so much in between, these beautiful areas are set aside for the use and enjoyment of the people. Each national park has its own entry fee, which varies from park to park. However annual passes are also available.
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (also called the America The Beautiful Pass) is an annual pass developed to give guests access to over 2,000 federal recreational sites. “Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person).”
The Annual Pass costs $80 per adult (Children age 15 or under are admitted free, as are current U.S. military members and their dependents, U.S. citizens or permanent residents who provide documentation of a permanent disability, and NPS volunteers who have logged in at least 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Pass Program). Since 1994, seniors age 62 or over who are U.S. residents or permanent residents have been able to purchase a lifetime “America The Beautiful” pass for $10 but effective August 28, 2017, that price is going to increase an almost incredible
700%, to $80, as result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the U.S. Congress on December 16, 2016.
Here’s a FAQ about the changes, which is posted on several U.S. government sites:
The price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass is increasing as result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the U.S. Congress on December 16, 2016.
The Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994.
The lifetime Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80.
The legislation states that the cost of the lifetime Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the annual America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80.
The legislation also establishes an annual Senior Pass for $20. That pass is valid for one year from the date of issuance. Four annual Senior Passes purchased in consecutive years can be traded in for a lifetime pass. Additionally, access to the majority of National Park Service sites remains free — only 118 of 417 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.
The current passes are lifetime passes and will remain valid.
No. All benefits of the current Senior Pass stay the same.
Passes are non-refundable, non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen. If lost or stolen, a new pass will need to be purchased.
U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible for the Senior Pass.
The annual and lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six Federal agencies.
· National Park Service
· U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
· Bureau of Land Management
· Bureau of Reclamation
· U.S. Forest Service
· U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees.
Yes, travelling companions can also enter for free. The Senior Passes admit pass owner/s and passengers in a noncommercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass owner + three adults, not to exceed four adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free.). Also, at many sites, the Senior Passes provide the pass owner (only) a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours).
Senior Passes can be purchased at any federal recreation site that charges an entrance or standard amenity (day use) fee. Proof of age and residency is required. A complete list of sites where the pass is available can be found at https://store.usgs.gov/sites/default/files/PassIssuanceList.pd
They can also be purchased online or through the mail from USGS. An additional $10 processing fee will be added to the price. For more information go to https://store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes
Will the money from the sales of Senior Passes sold in national parks benefit the National Park Service?
Yes, the funds from all Senior Passes purchased in a national park will go to a National Park Foundation Endowment and a National Park Centennial Challenge Fund, both authorized by the Centennial Legislation.
So there you go. If you’re an American citizen or permanent resident age 62 and over who is interested in getting a lifetime pass, now through August 27, 2017 would be a good time to apply so you can pay the $10 rate instead of the upcoming $80 rate.
A hat tip to Jessica G. for the heads up on this information!
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