My New Senior Pass!

This is one of those “Hurray For Me!”… or “Don’t You Just Wish You Were Me?” kinda posts that you see on Facebook all the time.  Yeah… they’re super annoying, right?

BUT!… Besides the ‘Hurray For Me’ aspect of this post, I feel okay about putting it up because this is just that awesome… and… anyone in my age group can partake of this for themselves.  So besides bragging, I’m posting this as a public service.

Okay buckle up… like I keep saying, this is pretty damn cool!

How much does it cost you to drive into Yosemite or Yellowstone NP each time you go?  Or even just to drive through Yosemite NP on Highway 120 to get over the pass to Owen’s Valley… Right now it’s $30… just to drive over the pass?!… but it’s far shorter than taking 108 and 395, so you just bite the bullet and pay the money right?  Lassen, Death Valley and Joshua Tree NPs are all $20.  And even our humble little local Pinnacles NP is $15.  But Yosemite is the worst, cuz you gotta pay it just to drive to the other side of the hill!?

What if there was another way?  Sigh… just think about it.  Well if you’re over 62 years of age, there actually is another way.  For a measly $10, you can get yourself a lifetime pass to ALL the national parks in the United States.  That’s right, LIFETIME.  We visit the national parks quite a bit so this feels like we won the lottery.  But there’s got to be a trick right?  It’s just too good to be true.  Well there is no trick… it IS true.  Here are the rules taken directly from

Senior Pass

  • $10 Lifetime pass
  • For U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over.
  • May be obtained in person at a federal recreation site or through the mail using this application form. The cost of obtaining a Senior Pass through the mail or online is twenty dollars ($20). Ten ($10) for the Senior Pass and ten ($10) for processing the application. Applicants must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship.
  • May provide a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services.
  • Generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.

After waiting for what seemed like forever (that is until I turned 62), I got mine this last summer before a backpacking trip that started in Kings Canyon National Park.  And it was EASY.  I did it from my car through my open car window.  No muss, no fuss…

Here’s my pass…

Senior Pass

And now I can’t wait till my next visit to a national park to use it.

The State of California has something similar.  It’s called the Golden Bear Pass.  But it’s much more restrictive because it has to be renewed yearly and has an income restriction (you have to submit your state income tax returns).   But there’s another California Parks pass that’s almost as good which has no income restriction.  It’s the Limited Use Golden Bear Pass.  It costs $20, has to be renewed yearly and doesn’t work from the weekend before Memorial Day until after Labor Day (and just the opposite for the desert state parks).  But that’s still 9 months of access for $20.   I just applied for mine.  There’s a 4 to 6 week processing time therefore I’m waiting.  But in a few weeks, expect me to be bragging about that here too.

So… Hurray For Me!  Mostly becoming older pretty much sucks.  But there are one or two things that are more than just okay about it.


3 thoughts on “My New Senior Pass!”

  1. The $20 is worth it. I just paid $9 for a measly hour’s worth of walking in the Henry Cowell Redwood Loop. And that was a stupid dollar off the non-senior price of $10. (Even so, the date restrictions are sucky. You can’t use it in the summer???)

  2. The Golden Bear Pass is unrestricted. But you gotta submit your income tax returns to show that you’re receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income – whatever that is). That’s the income restriction I guess. That pass is only $5. But the rest of us who don’t qualify for SSI are eligible to apply for the Limited Golden Bear Pass for $20. As you pointed out, that can very quickly save you it’s cost. It IS annoying that we can’t use the pass during the summer. But that’s primetime for everyone else so we probably don’t want to use it during the summer anyway cuz of the crowds. AND… we live in California… our summers start in April and go well into November. During those times, you can just go to the national parks I guess.

    If you want an IQ test… this Limited Golden Bear pass only works at the California State desert parks from the weekend before Memorial Day through Labor Day. So they’re just the opposite of all the rest of the state parks. That means that the only times you get in for free is when it’s super hot and you only have free access for three months out of the year. I get what they’re doing… but it still kinda sucks. The desert parks are near high population areas so I’m sure that they’re crowded in the winter and during wildflower season.

Can't wait to hear what you have to say about this...