Time running out on $10 national park pass for seniors

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The shoreline of Lake McDonald in Montana's Glacier National Park.
The shoreline of Lake McDonald in Montana's Glacier National Park.

Seniors have until Aug. 27 to pay $10 for a lifetime pass to enter U.S. national parks. After that date, the price goes up to $80.

The price hike was included in the National Park Service Centennial Act, signed into law by Barack Obama in December. In addition to raising the fee for seniors, the law established an endowment to fund national parks.

The senior lifetime pass, available for U.S. residents age 62 and older, has cost $10 since 1994.

Passes can be purchased at a national park or other federal recreation area that charges an entrance fee. The pass can also be obtained by mail or online, but there will be an additional $10 processing fee, for a total of $20. Due to expected high volume, there could be delays with online and mail order processing of up to several months, said the National Park Service.

The senior pass can be used to enter sites managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The senior pass covers all entrance fees and standard amenity/day use fees. Plus, the pass enables the holder to get discounts on some tours or campsites. The pass also waives the entrance fee for traveling companions. At per-vehicle fee sites, the pass waives the fee for the pass holder and all passengers in a noncommercial vehicle. At a per-person fee site, the pass admits the pass holder and three other adults. Children under 16 are always admitted free.

Seniors will have the option of acquiring an annual pass for $20. Should they later decide to buy the lifetime pass, seniors can apply what they spent on annual passes to the $80 lifetime pass.

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