Pssst! Here’s one of the best-kept secrets in America. It’s called the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands – Senior Pass.
The Senior Pass is available to any citizen (or permanent resident) over age 62 and can only be obtained in person at any National Park, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service and many Department of Agriculture offices. I got mine while in New Mexico photographing at a BLM site. If you are a senior photographer, this has got to be the best deal around.
Unlike the Annual Pass for National Parks and other federal lands, the Senior Pass is good for a lifetime, or what’s left of it when you get to be 62. Participating agencies include the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. The Annual Pass is $80/ year, while the Senior Pass- drumroll, please- is an unbelievable $10! That’s for the aforementioned lifetime.
The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder and 3 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free). Many of us photographers find ourselves on BLM or Forest Service land, so the pass is quite versatile. On my recent New Mexico trip, I photographed primarily on BLM and National Monument lands.
The Senior Pass provides a 50% discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. Naturally, in those cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder is given the 50% price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.
If you qualify, make sure that when you sign up you also ask for the rearview mirror hanging tag. You use that in park areas that are unstaffed when you enter. That happens often with photographers, since we often show up well before sunrise.