Saturday, February 11, 2017

National park passes are a great bargain

Much attention was paid to America’s national parks during 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service. These destinations are truly America’s greatest idea, and I encourage all my readers to visit at least one national park, forest, seashore, or monument each year.

Lifetime passes to America’s national parks for senior citizens and Americans with disabilities are available at any of the country’s more than 400 federal recreation sites that come under protection of the National Park Service. You can also get these passes through the mail, which may be more convenient for some people.

"National parks are places to share with children, grandchildren, and other family members” says National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They facilitate recreation and healthy living. Many parks, including Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Denali, have trails that are accessible to people with limited mobility and to wheelchair users. We also have many accessible camping and picnic areas," Jarvis adds.

Senior passes are available for $10.00 to citizens age 62 or older. Access passes are free for people who have permanent disabilities regardless of age. U. S. Military and their dependents also qualify for free annual passes that provide admission to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. Pass users also receive a small discount in gift shops and a 50% discount on some fees for activities like camping and launching a boat.

You can print out an application for a senior or access pass at Once the application package is received and the documentation verified, the pass will be mailed to you. There is a $10 processing fee to receive a pass by mail but no additional fee if you purchase the pass at a park.

Anyone can purchase an annual pass for $80 that covers the owner and three accompanying adults over age 16 (there’s no charge for children 15 and younger) This pass is good for one year at all parks that charge an entrance fee—still a good bargain, especially if you live near one of the popular parks or plan a vacation to several at a time.

The next fee-free day for the 120 national parks that normally charge an entrance fee is February 20, 2017, Presidents Day. Fee-free days provide a great opportunity to discover a new park or visit an old favorite. Keep in mind that some sites are always free.

For more information, visit or Learn more at

Photos by Beverly Burmeier and free sites

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