Southern California

Seniors Take Advantage of National Parks Service Pass Before Price Hike

The National Parks Service lifetime pass for seniors is about to jump from $10 to $80

Seniors are running out of time to take advantage of the National Parks Service lifetime pass before the price goes up by 700 percent.

It's the deal of a lifetime for seniors who enjoy the great outdoors.

"Last year, we saw about 200 passes sold annually," said Olivia Walker, a spokesperson with the Cleveland National Forest. "This year, already we've seen almost a thousand and we expect that to continue."

Since 1994, the lifetime senior pass has sold for just $10. On Aug. 28, the price jumps up the one-time fee to $80.

That boosted Diane Von Tunglen's motivation to go get her pass before the price increases.

"Because of prices going up and we're getting ready to go on a mobile home trip," said Von Tunglen.

The lifetime passes are valid at national parks, forests and monuments across the country including the Cabrillo Monument, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Seniors must be 62 years old to qualify and bring a valid ID to purchase the pass. The pass is for sale at many national parks and forest offices.

Another popular pass in Southern California is the Explorer Pass. It sells for $195 and offers parking at most state parks. The Explorer Pass can be used at Torrey Pines, Cardiff Reef, Ponto and Tamarac beach parking. During the summer months parking lots charge around $15 per day. Prices also increase during the holidays.

"If you like to spend lots of time with your family and friends at the beach, or you come surfing often, it's a really great value," said Nicole Van Doren, a spokesperson for the California State Parks.

Erin McPeak owns a pass and was at Cardiff Reef with her husband and three daughters.

"Because if you come on a regular basis like we do, you end up paying 15 bucks per time," explained McPeak.

Van Doren said people who own a pass often come to the beach more often because they don't have to worry about paying every time.

"You can easily sneak in for an hour or two or several days in a row," said Van Doren.

Along with the Explorer Pass, there is a Golden Bear pass for low-income visitors. There is also a limited-use Golden Bear pass for people age 62 or older, that is only available in off-peak times of the year.

There are state passes available for the disabled and for military veterans that offer discounts on parking and camping. But the current paper passes need to be exchanged for the newly created credit card type of pass. There is no extra charge for the exchange, according to Van Doren.

For more information, call the CA State Park District office at (619) 688-3260.

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