Changes to the Senior Pass
On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass increased for the first time since 1994. The additional revenue will be used to enhance the visitor experience in parks. Learn more about the changes, what they mean for you, and how the additional funds will be used.
Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?
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 US Congress on December 16, 2016.
When was the last time the price increased for the Senior Pass?
The Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994.
How much is it increasing?
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.
What if a senior citizen is on a fixed budget?
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 prior 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.
What if I have a current Senior Pass?
The current passes are lifetime passes and will remain valid.
Will the benefits of my Senior Pass change?
No. All benefits of the current Senior Pass stay the same.
What if my current Senior Pass is lost or stolen?
Passes are non-refundable and non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
If lost or stolen, a new pass will need to be purchased.
Who is eligible for a Senior Pass?
US citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older are eligible for the Senior Pass.
What does the Senior Pass provide?
Annual and lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:
- National Park Service
- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- US Forest Service
- US Army Corps of Engineers
The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees.
Are there any other benefits from a Senior Pass?
Yes, traveling 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 plus 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).
How can I purchase a Senior Pass?
Senior Passes can be purchased at any federal recreation site, including national parks, that charges an entrance or standard amenity (day-use) fee. Proof of age and residency is required. See the complete list of sites where the pass is available (PDF).
Passes can also be purchased online or through the mail from USGS; an additional $10 processing fee will be added to the price. Visit the USGS store to buy the pass online or find instructions for purchasing by mail.
I’m having trouble getting a Senior Pass. What’s being done to address this?
Our public lands and the USGS website that sells Senior Passes have been overwhelmed with requests to purchase Senior Passes—more than 250,000 online and mail in applications so far this year, compared to the previous high of 33,000 passes in one year.
To help address the demand, we are printing and distributing hundreds of thousands of passes to the sites that sell passes. We are also temporarily increasing the staff at the online processing center to assist with the backlog of order requests and implementing a third party solution to make ordering easier and more efficient.
To allow visitors to use a recently purchased Senior Pass before they receive the printed pass, the National Park Service and five other land management agencies that honor the pass will accept the order confirmation generated from the online sale of the pass as proof of pass ownership until the backlog is cleared. Eligible visitors who purchase a Senior Pass online can now bring their order confirmation along with a photo ID to one of the more than 2,000 sites and parks that accept the pass.
Additionally, some National Park Service and other agency sites that sell the Senior Pass will immediately begin issuing rain checks to eligible visitors who wish to purchase a pass if the site has no more printed passes. Purchasers can access a park with the rain check until they can exchange it for the Senior Pass. Visitors are encouraged to contact the national park or other agency site they plan to visit to ensure the availability of rain checks at that location before traveling there.
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this updated Senior Pass program.
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.
What is the National Park Foundation Endowment?
The first $10 million collected by the National Park Service in each fiscal year from Senior Pass sales will be deposited in the Second Century Endowment for the National Park Service managed by the National Park Foundation. The foundation is the congressionally authorized philanthropic partner, or official charity, of the National Park Service. Funds within the Second Century Endowment will be expended on projects and activities approved by the Secretary of Interior to further the mission and purpose of the National Park Service.
What is the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund?
All revenues collected from sales by the National Park Service of National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Passes, that are in excess of $10 million will be deposited in the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund. The funds will be used for projects and programs approved by the Secretary of the Interior to the mission of the National Park Service and to enhance the visitor experience in National Park System units. Projects and programs will require at least a one-to-one match by non-federal donations.
Where will the money go if I purchase a Senior Pass from another agency?
Eighty to one hundred percent of funds from Senior Passes sold by the other five agencies will be retained by the site where they are sold and spent on visitor-related projects and programs.
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Your Pass to the Park
The Lifetime Senior Pass gives seniors access to parks and public lands nationwide. On August 28, 2017, the cost of the Senior Pass will increase to $80.
Annual vs Lifetime
You can now purchase a $20 Annual Senior Pass. The Annual Pass is good for one full year from the date of purchase. You can also purchase a $80 Lifetime Senior Pass. The Lifetime Pass does not need to be renewed.
A Lifetime Senior Pass can be purchased anytime for $80.
Four Annual Senior Passes may be exchanged for a free Lifetime Senior Pass.
Already Have a Pass?
Senior passes purchased before August 28, 2017, will be grandfathered in and are good for life.
Your Dollars at Work
37.6 million in estimated revenue from the senior pass will be used to enhance the visitor experience, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance, improved visitor facilities, and trail maintenance.
Fees have become an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience and recreation opportunities on federal lands.