|Majestic mountains of Grand Teton National Park|
Visit national parks for free
You probably remember that the National Park Service turned 100 years old in 2016 and many parks hosted special events and celebrations. But every year there are several designated days when fees to visit national parks that have a charge (many national park sites are always free) are waived.
|Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park|
The next fee-free day is September 30, and the last one for 2017 is Veterans Day Weekend on November 11-12. There’s no better time to enjoy our country’s history and natural beauty.
National parks have been called America’s Best Idea for good reason. Fee-free days make parks accessible to more people and provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or return to an old favorite, especially if your favorite park is one that normally charges an entrance fee. It’s good to note that only 118 of 417 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.
|Glorious colors of Grand Canyon National Park|
|Yellowstone National Park geysers|
The noted fee waivers in September and November include entrance fees (which normally range from $3 to $30), commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
Senior passes are golden
If you are age 62 or older, the best travel bargain you can find is the lifetime national park senior pass, even though the cost increased in August 2017 from $10 to $80. That’s for a lifetime pass, or you can purchase an annual senior pass, good for all national park sites, for $20.
While that may seem like a large increase, your traveling companions can also enter parks for free, up to four adults (Children under age 16 are always admitted free). Many sites also offer discounts on amenities like camping, swimming, boating, tours, or shopping with the senior pass.
|Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park|
|Hiking in Zion National Park|
The price increase is a result of Centennial Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2016. If you love our national parks as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that 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.You can also purchase Senior Passes online or through the mail with an added $10 processing fee. Contact https://store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes
What are you waiting for? Buy that Senior Pass or go on fee-free days--just take time to explore your national parks!
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier