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March 24, 2017 / Retirementallychallenged.com

U.S. National Parks on Sale!

I first posted this last year in February. If you are 62 or older and haven’t already taken advantage of this wonderful offer, the time to do it is now! The National Park Service has announced that the price for its Senior Pass will be raised from $10 to $80 sometime later this year. Here, with a few updates, is information about obtaining your pass.

So little, yet so mighty!

 There are a lot of opportunities to save a few dollars here and there when we pass certain age milestones. Some businesses offer deals for customers as young as 50, but most of these “senior discounts” don’t kick in until we reach age 55, 60, or older. Many restaurants, hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, and retail shops try to attract our money by offering a dollar amount or percentage off… but often only if you ask (so, ask). Some of the deals are good, but many require the customer to purchase something they may not have wanted in the first place.

The very best senior discount opportunity I know of is the one offered by the National Park Service. For just $10 (plus a $10 processing fee, if by mail or online), any U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 62 or over can purchase this lifetime pass to over 2,000 recreation sites. Senior Passes can be purchased online, by mail, or in person and will admit up to four adults (any age) in one non-commercial vehicle for free. How flipping great is that??!!

As soon as my husband turned 62, we drove to our local National Monument for a hike and to get his Senior Pass. We’ve already used the pass several times, and look forward to using it more in the future.

Even if you, like me, won’t be 62 until after the price increase, $80 is still a great bargain, and the increase will help the Park Service address its estimated $12 billion maintenance backlog. If $80 is too steep, another option for seniors is a $20 annual pass. Either way, The National Park System is an amazing resource and, especially with federal funding a bit shaky right now, well worth the investment.

Other discount passes are available, including one for current members of the military, people with disabilities, and 4th graders (I assume I don’t have any 4th graders reading my blog but some of you may have children or grandchildren who qualify). An $80 Annual Pass is available to anyone of any age and is a great deal if you plan to visit more than one or two participating parks during a calendar year.

To learn more about the National Park Service and their discount passes, visit their website (nps.gov), or go straight to: nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.

Then, get out and explore!

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38 Comments

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  1. lisadorenfest / Mar 24 2017 3:57 am

    Definitely good information to repost. The Captain (dual US/Italian Citizen) is a proud NPS member – signed up when we were in Hawaii

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 9:59 am

      Fabulous! It’s hard to imagine a more worthwhile organization. Even though I can’t take advantage of the $10 fee, I think $80 is still a great bargain!

  2. Ron Walker / Mar 24 2017 5:43 am

    Thanks for the information, I was not even aware of it.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 10:01 am

      I hope you are able to take advantage of the special fee discount. Even if you don’t currently have plans to visit a park, it’s handy to have in your wallet. You never know.

  3. Joanne Sisco / Mar 24 2017 5:44 am

    This is a great post that deserves to be highlighted periodically to remind people. Our park systems are true treasures and everyone should take advantage of these amazing green spaces.

    In Canada, our National Parks are free this year to celebrate our 150th birthday. I obtained my free pass and am eagerly waiting for some warmer weather. We have 5 National Parks within Ontario and I’m hoping to get to four of them by the end of the year 🙂

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 10:05 am

      I read about that special anniversary pass. Its probably not available to non-citizens, though (just like ours isn’t). I hope to visit a few Canadian national parks later this year, but I’m happy to support them at full price.

  4. karen207 / Mar 24 2017 5:53 am

    Great reminder for people, Janis. Like Joanne, I’m a Canadian (Ontario too, Joanne!) Making it easier for people to access parks, on either side of the border, is such a worthwhile, positive thing for governments to do.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 10:09 am

      I hope you can take advantage of the free passes available to you for your parks. What a wonderful gift to help celebrate your country’s 150th birthday!

  5. Liesbet / Mar 24 2017 7:20 am

    That is a great deal, Janis! I wasn’t aware it is a senior lifetime pass for $10 and not yearly! I know Mark’s parents have one back east. We are thinking about buying the annual pass for $80 right now, since we have visitors coming in today. Maybe Yosemite (too cold to camp still) or Muir Woods can be part of the agenda. When I was living and traveling in campers, we always had one, since we would indulge in National park visits and stays. Now, not knowing what’s next, we have not been able to visit any of the major ones yet.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 10:14 am

      I just keep ours in my wallet at all times because we just never know when one of our road trips might take us near a park or monument. Muir Woods is one of my favorite places to hike – I hope you are able to make it there. I bet there will be wonderful signs of spring everywhere!

  6. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread / Mar 24 2017 11:22 am

    There are many things today that Americans don’t agree about, but I think we all agree that we all fee pride when thinking about our national park system.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 11:31 am

      Oh wow, that’s really the truth, huh? Although there are probably a few who don’t want “their” tax dollars paying for it, and some who would like to develop resorts and other properties on the land, I think most people are very proud and protective of our national parks.

  7. theunassuminghiker / Mar 24 2017 1:24 pm

    We invested in the lifetime pass for both state and national parks. They no longer have the state lifetime pass, so we lucked out. So far it has totally been worth it!

  8. Terri Webster Schrandt / Mar 24 2017 1:45 pm

    The US boasts the largest collection of national parks and monuments in the world! $80 annual pass for all ages is a great idea, especially for all us Boomers still under age 62! Shared on facebook!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 3:12 pm

      I also thought $80 for the lifetime pass – after the price increase – will still be an amazing bargain (for those of us youngsters still not 62). Thanks for the share – I don’t think they are making the increase all that public yet.

  9. Shelley / Mar 24 2017 2:45 pm

    At first, I thought the headline referenced recent efforts of the curt administration to allow drilling and clean cutting on our public lands.
    Let’s hope that “America’s best idea” is still around 200 years from now for those that follow us to enjoy.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 3:16 pm

      Oh my, isn’t that horrible? We need to make our voices heard that we don’t want our parks to fall into the hands of big money interests.

      Actually, the pass price increase was planned a while ago, during the last administration.

    • snakesinthegrass2014 / Mar 24 2017 5:47 pm

      I’m with Shelly. That was the first thing that entered my mind too. We’re all paranoid now! – Marty

  10. laura bruno lilly / Mar 24 2017 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, Janis! 2016 was the year both hubby and I turned 62 and with your update on the increase in senior pass fees looming – well, gotta get on the ball and get those passes!
    I’m psyched!
    🙂

  11. Donna / Mar 24 2017 4:15 pm

    Great post, Janis. For your readers traveling in Canada this summer, they can go online to ‘Parks Canada Passes and Permits’. There they can get their FREE pass to Canada’s national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites. The pass is complimentary in honour of Canada’s 150 anniversary.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 24 2017 6:37 pm

      So the pass is good for non-Canadians too? If so, we’ll get ours for sure!

      • Donna / Mar 26 2017 6:53 am

        Hi, Janis – I’ve read the ‘Parks Canada Passes and Permits’ site over carefully. My understanding is that this permit is available to non-Canadians as well. They say that it can take up to eight weeks to get your pass in the mail, so you should apply as soon as possible. (My pass took less than two weeks to arrive). Good luck!

        • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 26 2017 3:14 pm

          Thank you! Leave it to Canadians to have a welcoming and generous policy for their passes 🙂 I’ll send for ours next week!

  12. Debra / Mar 24 2017 9:43 pm

    I didn’t even know about these passes until recently, and so we’ve paid full price for many years past “62.” We really do need to get on this now if the price is going to increase. Thank you for the information!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 26 2017 12:11 pm

      I’m happy that you will be able to take advantage of this offer! Even at full price, I think entry into our national parks is a bargain.

  13. jilldennison / Mar 25 2017 12:28 am

    Thank you for this! I have never once taken advantage of a senior discount for the simple reason that … I keep forgetting, at age 65, that I am a senior! I don’t feel like a senior! 😀

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 25 2017 9:19 pm

      I know, it’s so weird, right? I often forget to take advantage of special offers too. But, this one is such a great one!

  14. Ally Bean / Mar 25 2017 2:14 pm

    Good info. Will pass this along, and try not to be jealous of those friends who can take advantage of this deal!

  15. Dr Sock / Mar 25 2017 3:49 pm

    How wonderful that seniors in your country can obtain a lifetime park pass for such a small fee! One of the seniors’ “perks” that I have enjoyed for a few years is senior-sized meals in some restaurants. Otherwise, with the regular sized entrees, I usually have to box up half my meal and take it home (which, however, is better than letting it go to waste or overeating).

    Jude

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 25 2017 9:23 pm

      My husband and I often share a meal. Part of it is that we can’t eat as much as we used to, but part is that they are making the portion sizes so big… who can eat that much?

  16. rangewriter / Mar 27 2017 9:57 am

    Believe it or not, I purchased my pass and keep it in my car, but last year I forgot to use it several times. It encompasses more than just Federal National Parks.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Mar 27 2017 4:25 pm

      I keep it in my wallet because I never know when I’ll need it. We’ve used it at a few national monuments and federal recreation areas too.

  17. susan@onesmallwalk / Apr 11 2017 7:00 am

    Wow, Janis. What a lot of helpful reading I have to catch up on. Thanks so much for the tip – I am buying mine right now!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Apr 12 2017 9:38 pm

      I’m glad that I was able to remind you to get ahold of your pass! It really is a tremendous discount and a great encouragement to visit our national parks.

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