WASHINGTON, D.C. — The price of a lifetime senior pass to America’s national parks is going up 700 percent – from $10 to $80 – on Aug. 28.
The increase was mandated by the National Park Service Centennial Act that Congress passed in December. That act requires that the cost of the lifetime pass for people 62 and older be the same as the cost of the regular annual pass, which is $80.
This is the first time the price of the senior pass has gone up since 1994.
There are 417 National Park Service sites, including national parks and monuments. Only 118 of those sites charge entrance fees.
The purpose of the Centennial Act, as stated in its introduction, is “to prepare the National Park Service for its Centennial in 2016 and for a second century of promoting and protecting the natural, historic and cultural resources of our national parks for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”
When senior passes are purchased at National Park Service units such as Acadia, the money will go to the Second Century Endowment, which is managed by the National Park Foundation, and the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund.
The endowment will fund projects and activities “to further the mission and purpose of the National Park Service,” according to the legislation that created it.
The challenge fund will support projects to advance the park service’s mission and “to enhance the visitor experience in National Park Service units.”
In addition to raising the price of the lifetime senior pass, the Centennial Act created a new annual senior pass. It will be available for $20 starting Aug. 28.
Both the lifetime and annual passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Senior passes can be purchased at the Acadia National Park visitor center in Hulls Cove, the Sand Beach Entrance Station, The Thompson Island Information Center, the Bar Harbor Village Green and the Blackwoods, Schoodic Woods and Seawall campgrounds.