Our Northwest

Lifetime $10 parks pass for seniors ends soon

Wednesday, May 17, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

meadow trail near Mount RainierOutdoor lovers age 62 and older have just a few months to cash in on a huge bargain: a lifetime pass to visit national parks for just $10.

If you buy one online or through the mail there's an additional $10 processing fee for a total of $20. But the base price climbs to $80 by year's end. So why spend four times more if you can save now?

Without the pass, the 7-day vehicle entrance fee for adults typically costs $25 to $30. Your $10 senior pass will admit you and up to three adult passengers in your car to national parks and federal recreation lands for your lifetime.

sunrise over river at Yosemite National ParkThe pass is good for national parks and federal recreation lands across the country, not just local gems like Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, and Olympic. Want to revisit Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Grand Canyon? Never seen Glacier, Joshua Tree, Carlsbad Caverns, or Zion? Or more-distant wonders like Shenandoah, Everglades, or Mammoth Cave? It's all there for just $10, or $20 online.

Federal recreation lands include national monuments like Canyon de Chelly, Devil's Tower, John Day Fossil Beds, Little Bighorn Battlefield, and many more.

Spider Rock at Canyon de Chelly in ArizonaI decided not to procrastinate and clicked on the link to order my own senior pass. It took me to a page with an image that looked familiar, evoking a dim memory … so I opened my wallet and pulled out all my various credit and membership cards. And there, in a cruel, ironic twist, I found evidence of a truly "senior moment."

I already have a senior pass. Gahhh!

Yes, a friend had tipped me off a year or so ago that I could buy a pass in person – at the ranger station within Seattle's REI flagship store, I believe – for just $10. I paid cash, then stuck the card in my wallet and forgot about it.

Devil's Tower beyond winding Wyoming roadHere's hoping I remember it's there when I pull up to the Mt. Rainier entrance gate this summer.

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