The lifetime pass, soon to increase in price from $10 to $80, gets the bearer in free to sites ranging from Mount Rainier to the Snow Lake trailhead, providing access to more than 2,000 recreation sites.
UPDATE on July 12, 2017 to this story originally published in June: The price of the Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80 on Aug. 28, 2017, the National Park Service and other federal agencies have announced. Golden Age passes and Senior Passes issued previously continue to be valid for the lifetime of the holder. More details here.
Seattle-area national parks and related federal agencies this spring saw a 700 percent leap in local sales of their Senior Pass, likely stimulated by buyers out to beat a big price hike for what is affectionately known among many of its users as the “Golden Geezer.”
The lifetime pass, soon to increase in price from $10 to $80, gets the bearer in free to sites ranging from Mount Rainier to the Snow Lake trailhead, providing access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies.
Last December, Congress authorized the price increase for the pass, which is good for a lifetime for U.S. citizens and permanent residents 62 and older.
The same legislation created an annual Senior Pass to be priced at $20 per year.
“People are attracted to this lifetime pass for its good value, and it will still be a great value at $80, but naturally people want the screaming deal” of $10, said Charles Beall, superintendent of Seattle-area national-park sites, including Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The Outdoor Recreation Information Center at REI’s Seattle flagship store recorded the sales jump, comparing April 2017 to April 2016.
Among other things, the pass is good for admission for the bearer and others in the same vehicle to enter national parks such as Rainier and Olympic, which regularly charge $25 per carload.
The pass also covers most day-use fees at national forest sites such as trailheads and interpretive centers, taking the place of the Northwest Forest Pass, which costs $30 a year.
The Senior Pass may also provide a 50 percent discount on fees for camping, swimming and boat launching at parks and forests as well as sites managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Senior Pass generally does not cover or reduce fees charged by concessionaires, and it is not honored by Washington State Parks.
Eligible buyers may purchase the pass at most staffed offices of the National Park Service or U.S. Forest Service, including the Klondike park’s Seattle location, 319 Second Ave. S., and the REI information center, 222 Yale Ave. N. Identification such as a driver license or passport is required. You may also purchase the pass at any national-park entrance gate, substituting the pass purchase for your entry fee.
Other purchase options include online or by mail, though there is a backup of up to six weeks for online orders and 10 weeks for mail-in orders. In each case, the cost increases to $20 to include a service charge. Order online or print out a mail-order form from https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass.
Beall urged those who are eligible to beat the rush before a price-hike date is announced. “The reason we are encouraging seniors to get their passes is that it is the goal of the National Park Service to get everyone to participate in their shared heritage, their inheritance, which are our national parks,” he said in an email.