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Discounts and Free Entry to National Parks: How to Buy and Use a Senior Pass

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident aged 62 or over and also like to travel, you should purchase a Senior Pass. This card provides free access and discounts to national parks and other recreational areas. How to buy and use Senior Pass, the publication told tripsavvy.

Photo: Shutterstock

General information about the Senior Pass

The Senior Pass is a card available to US citizens and permanent residents aged 62 and over. It provides access to recreational areas administered by six federal agencies, including national parks. The card provides its holder with a discount on some paid services, such as camping.

As of May 2022, the cost of a lifetime Senior Pass is $80. The Annual Pass is $20 but can be upgraded to Lifetime if four Annual Passes have been purchased within four consecutive years. The annual pass is valid for two people and does not cover fees for additional amenities (such as camping).

If you have the old Golden Age Passports, they are still valid for life and are equivalent to the new Senior Pass. However, if you want to get a new Senior Pass, you can purchase it with proof of identity (such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or similar document).

Golden Age Passports will be exchanged for a Senior Pass free of charge with proof of identification.

How to get Senior Pass

People who are 62 years of age or older and are US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this pass. The Senior Pass can be obtained in person at a participating federal resting place or office. It is possible to purchase a card by mail or online here:

To purchase a Senior Pass online, you must upload documents issued by an authorized US agency confirming citizenship or permanent residence in the United States, as well as your date of birth. Accepted documents are a driver's license, passport, green card, U.S. birth certificate, or government-issued ID.

The Senior Pass is non-transferable, even between spouses.

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How to use Senior Pass

The Senior Pass admits holders and passengers on bikes or in a non-commercial vehicle with a per-vehicle charge, plus the pass holder plus three adults, up to a maximum of four adults if charged per person.

This card provides its holder with a discount on some additional fees for amenities such as camping, swimming, launching boats, and guided tours. Discounts do not apply to bookshops and gift shops on site.

A photo ID will be required to prove ownership of the pass.

Where to use the Senior Pass

Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, US Army Corps of Engineers recognize the Senior Pass at locations where admission fees apply.

In addition, the Tennessee Valley Authority is eligible to participate in the Senior Pass program. Visitors are always advised to contact the designated visitor's office to see if your entry pass is acceptable.

Replacement Senior Pass

This card cannot be replaced if it is lost or stolen. You can either buy another Senior Pass with the proper paperwork or pay the standard fee.

A damaged Senior Pass can be exchanged free of charge at the resort if proof of ownership is provided. In such a case, part of the subscription can be identified. You are also entitled to receive a replacement card by mail by returning a damaged pass.

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Additional Senior Pass Benefits

In many places, a Lifetime Senior Pass provides the holder with a discount on additional services (eg camping, swimming, launching boats, excursions).

The pass program is run by six federal agencies that operate according to specific rules, so the fees vary everywhere. That is, the discount program in different places on the Senior Pass operates in different ways.

As a rule, discounts work as follows:

  • Individual campsites: The discount only applies to fees for campsites physically occupied by the pass holder, and not to any additional campsites occupied by members of the pass holder's group.
  • Campsites with connection to utilities: Discounts are not available if utility bills are paid separately. A discount may apply if the utility fee is combined with the camping fee.
  • Group campsites and facilities: Discounts are not available for group campsites and other group facilities for which a fixed fee is charged. If a group camping has a fee for one person, only the owner of the pass receives a discount - the rest pay the full price.
  • Guided tours: The pass offers discounts on some excursions, but they are available only to its owner by providing the pass directly.

The Senior Pass is only valid at participating federal recreational properties.

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