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Look no further for evidence that our government looks out for its people. Seniors suffering under piles of money will soon get to unburden themselves of this plight. Instead of paying an insultingly meager $10 for a lifetime national park pass, soon they get to pay $80.  Makes sense. Legislation allowing this not-shameful-at-all price hike passed in 2016 so I’m late to the party. Hope I haven’t missed the part where congress pulls chewed food out of seniors’ mouths. Oh, and yanks their worn slippers right off their feet just because they can.

Read about the changes to senior passes.

The price goes up August 28th.

You can buy the pass through YourPassNow. It takes 2 minutes. The holder must be 62 or older. There’s a backlog, but the parks will accept receipts until passes arrive by mail.

These passes are good for the holder’s lifetime. I got one for my Dad. Now he’ll have to dump his cash-stuffed mattress on other things that existed and flourished for millions of years before humans arrived to claim mine. 

Price spike aside, I’m so excited for my Dad to have this pass. He’s never been to a national park. After he received the email confirmation he called to talk about all of the places he wants to go see. My dad is not a phone person. Sometimes I’m mid-sentence when suddenly I hear Okay, bye. CLICK. The phone call alone was worth the $20 ($10 for processing).

Last year, I paid $25 to access Acadia Park for one week. That didn’t include camping or anything other than being there. The $20 pays for itself if the holder visits one park, plus there are other benefits like discounts on camp sites and entry to other public lands.

The pass covers the holder plus passengers.

The Senior Pass is a lifetime pass available to United States citizens or permanent residents 62 years of age or older. The Pass can be used at over 2000 Federal recreation sites across the nation, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and many National Forest lands. The Senior Pass admits the Pass owner and any passengers traveling with him/her in a single non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or the Pass owner and three additional adults where per-person fees are charged. The Senior Pass may also offer a discount on some expanded amenity fees, such as camping. Discounts offered by the Pass vary widely across the many different types of recreation sites. Pass owners are encouraged to check with sites they plan to visit before obtaining a pass to verify that their Pass will be accepted. Anytime a Pass is used, photo identification will be requested to verify Pass ownership.

The receipt you receive after purchase of the Senior Pass may be used as your admittance Pass until your actual Pass arrives in the mail.

I wish these lifetime passes were affordable for everyone, but then how would the National Park Service … um … I have no idea why they need so much more money.

In Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan writes that Voyager 1 and 2 were built at a cost of less than one penny per citizen. I’m reading this book right now so NASA’s inventiveness is top of mind. These spacecrafts were launched in 1977. In 1994, Sagan wrote they were expected to run until 2017 should all go well. They’re still going. Voyager 1 is more than 12 billion miles away in interstellar space while 2 is more than 10 billion miles away. Today, they’re still sending back data and exploring far beyond where anything from Earth has ever flown. Greatness can be accomplished without cutting holes in the public’s pockets.

Maybe NASA could teach the National Park Service how to cut the fat. Or congress could pass more cool legislation. Children do get all that tooth fairy money.

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