The National Park Service (NPS) says it will be another month before some people who ordered the lifetime senior pass in the summer receive their actual passes. The problem: Nearly a million people wanted to take advantage of the $10 price before it jumped to $80 on Aug. 28. To put the demand into perspective, the Park Service received about 33,000 orders by mail or online in 2016. This year it received about 957,000 orders — two-thirds during August alone.
A spokesperson for the NPS says everyone should have their passes by Christmas. In the meantime, you can still get the pass benefits; just show your receipt or email confirmation to a park ranger. The pass is good for a variety of things, including access to more than 2,000 sites and parks across the country that are managed by the NPS. At a site that charges per-person fees, pass holders in a non-commercial vehicle can bring in three other adults on their pass.
The NPS says the price increase is to “enhance the visitor experience in parks.” Even with the 700 percent jump, the pass is still quite a bargain. Single park admission fees to the most popular sites — including the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite national parks — can run as much as $30, a price that may jump in 2018.
If you missed out on buying the $10 pass, and don’t want to pay the $80 upfront, there is another option. The NPS says you can buy an annual senior pass for $20 and then, after four consecutive years of purchasing passes, trade them in for a lifetime senior pass. To be eligible for the senior pass, you must be 62 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The Park Service had offered the lifetime senior pass for $10 since 1994.