Passes can be purchased online for an additional service fee of $10 or at any of the parks without the extra charge. Passes also can be purchased through the mail, though applications must be postmarked by Aug. 27 to secure the $10 price.
The park service has offered the lifetime senior pass for $10 since 1994. It covers all entrance, day-use and vehicle fees, and provides discounts for things such as tours and campsites. At a site that charges per-person fees, pass holders can bring along three other adults for free. The price increase is part of a larger move to pay for major projects and enhanced services.
Seniors can still opt to buy an annual pass for $20. Those who purchase an annual pass for four straight years can convert their pass to a lifetime senior pass.
Even with the 700 percent price increase, the park service says the lifetime pass is still quite a bargain for those who purchase one. Single park-admission fees to the most popular sites — which include the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite national parks — can run as much as $30.
"If a senior visits three of the $30 parks, she or he has already saved money," NPS spokesperson Kathy Kupper said last month. "Plus, the pass allows those traveling with seniors to enter the park with them."
In late 2016, Congress approved legislation, the National Park Service Centennial Act, that raises fees and sets up an endowment to help pay for projects and visitor services.
The price increase is intended to generate additional revenue, improve the visitor experience and provide more volunteer opportunities in parks across the country.