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The National Parks Senior Pass – America the Beautiful

| Updated Dec 6, 2023

Hands down, the best value in the RVing world is the National Parks Senior Pass, officially known as the America the Beautiful Pass…

One of the consolations of old age is the America the Beautiful Pass, which, like most Federal entities, has undergone a name change – it used to be called MANY years ago, the Golden Age Pass.

Anyone over the age of 62 can get an America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior Pass for $80. Or, an Annual Senior Pass for only $20.

In this article, we share the details and direct links to order the America the Beautiful Senior Pass that's right for you…

What the America the Beautiful National Parks Senior Pass includes:

The National Parks Senior Pass - America the Beautiful 1
Our National Parks Senior Pass got us free admission to Canyonlands National Park in Utah

All US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this pass, which will greatly reduce your expenditures for visiting and camping in National Parks and federal land – more than 2,000 locations in all.

Each pass covers entrance fees for your RV (or whatever vehicle you are in) and all passengers at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard and day-use fees at national forests and grasslands and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Most campgrounds in National Forests give you a 50% discount on camping fees with the America the Beautiful pass.

image of camping on federal land
Our Boondocking Spot in the Ottawa National Forest. Our National Parks Senior Pass, or America the Beautiful Pass, got us a 50% discount on the camping fee

How to Get an America the Beautiful Senior Pass

The America the Beautiful Senior Pass is sold at all National Park entrances, national monuments, many National Forest ranger stations, Bureau of Land Management field and district officers, and numerous other places.

As soon as you turn 62, just show up with documentation that you're either a US citizen or permanent resident (driver's license, US passport, birth certificate, or green card) and that you're 62.

Or, you can purchase the Senior Pass right now online:

Purchase the LIFETIME Senior Pass Here.

Purchase the ANNUAL Senior Pass Here.

Pay the fee ($80), and you're literally set for life. Since the replacement charge is the same as a new card, the procedure is just to get another one if you lose yours. So don't lose your card!

NOTE: They don't accept pictures of the card (in case you like to digitize your paper for trips) – so keep your card handy!

The National Parks Senior Pass has lots of benefits for campers

There are many other uses more important to RVers and fulltimers who spend more than the usual two or three weeks a year touring our country.

Six federal agencies – the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Land Management – all honor the America the Beautiful National Parks Senior Pass at sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged. 

“Standard amenity fees” is governmentese for day use, swimming, boat launch or campsite fees, which is where the pass comes into its own.

This is a BLM camping envelope- Forest Service ones are similar. The bottom line- box 11 - is where you put your Senior Pass number in. Also in the fine print is who to make your check out to.
This is a BLM envelope – Forest Service ones are similar. The bottom line is where you put your Senior Pass number in.

When you check-in at one of the campgrounds, look on the envelope you use to pay your camping fee at National Forest and BLM campgrounds. 

On the bottom line, there's a place for your pass number and a 50% discount on the overnight camping fee. Army Corps of Engineers campsites also honor this 50% discount for senior pass cardholders.

Even the Tennessee Valley Authority will give you 50% off of the campsite fees. The TVA offers hundreds of campsites among its six dam reservoir campgrounds in the Southeast, available from March 15 to November 15. The length of stay is limited to 21 days during the high season (May 1 to Sept 30) and 30 days in the off-season (Oct 1 to April 30, excluding closure dates).

TIP: Check out this article about finding Free and Cheap camping

The America the Beautiful pass for seniors will also save you the trouble of going into the ranger station or store to get a permit for National Forest dispersed camping – just display your card on the dash in lieu of the permit. 

What Is the Access Pass?

The site also explains, “A lifetime pass – available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability (does not have to be a 100% disability) – that provides admittance to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six Federal agencies” is only $10. That Pass is called the Access Pass and you can read all about it here.

There are some exceptions

The only fly in the ointment are concessionaires – private companies that contract with the Federal government to manage campgrounds in national parks and forests.

They aren't required to accept the pass for a 50% discount, although there are many who do. Each concessionaire has a separate agreement for the National Parks Service. It's just bad business not to honor this pass, so almost all the concessionaires we've encountered do so.

If the campsite has “improvements” – water and/or electric hookups – expect to pay full price for the “improvements,” and get 50% off the basic campground fee only. 

Most Federal campgrounds don't have hookups, though, so if you have solar or just like to boondock, an America the Beautiful Senior Pass will come in handy.

There's just no downside to getting this card. Even if you don't camp at all, you'll be able to drive through national parks without getting gouged for an entrance fee.

This has to be one of the best values out there in the RV world. 

Many other types of passes are available

If you or some travel companions are not seniors, there are many other types of passes available, including a Military Pass, a Volunteer Pass, a student pass, and many more.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland's Yellowstone Travel Guide

3 Beautiful Boondocking Sites Outside Yellowstone

At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.

Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.

It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-12-04

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

93 Responses to “The National Parks Senior Pass – America the Beautiful”

December 05, 2023at10:47 am, dave korotev said:

Bought a golden ager card for $10 at the LBY ranch in tx in the 80s–have used it all over the US and saved lots of $$$$$$


October 24, 2022at12:04 pm, james emmons said:

The concesssionaire campgrounds are permitted to price-gouge just like a commercial campground.
The NFS and NPS have effectively given away that which belongs to U.S. citizens.


October 24, 2022at12:35 pm, james emmons said:

Here’s a fine one. $60 per night to pitch a tent in YOUR National Forest.
[Link deleted]


October 24, 2022at12:42 pm, james emmons said:

Canyon Lake campground in AZ


July 21, 2022at7:17 am, Roger LaClair said:

We keep a running total of our savings with the card and we’re over $500 in savings to this point!!


July 22, 2022at12:25 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That is fantastic! thanks for sharing – Team RV Lifestyle


December 05, 2021at6:41 pm, Tracey M said:

For me, it’s an 80 dollar piece of crap. It’s good at “some” campsites – but you don’t know which, until you’re trying to make a reservation and it says you can’t use it.


May 13, 2014at1:56 pm, Beverly J. Graves Bachota said:

What age is considered “Senior”?


May 13, 2014at9:52 pm, Campskunk said:

gotta be 62. from the looks of your photo, you have a while to wait 😉


May 12, 2014at5:50 pm, Janet Stefani Stadler Bragg said:

Got ours before we started our traveling. Good for life. What a deal!!!


May 12, 2014at2:39 pm, Charlotte Peak Thornton said:

Love mind, looks just like mind….


May 12, 2014at1:27 pm, Judy Floyd said:

Have one just like it.


May 12, 2014at11:17 am, Jacquie Neale said:

Is it available to Canadians?


May 13, 2014at9:50 pm, Campskunk said:

it’s available to all canadians with green cards (permanent residents). my wife is canadian, and it’s her card.


May 12, 2014at10:49 am, Richard J Badali said:

I have had one since I turned 62 and my parents had one for many years before mine.


May 12, 2014at8:12 am, Barbara Barnhart Pollock said:

Free or 1/2 price admissions, discounts on camping and only $10. We just used ours at Mammoth Cave NP for cave tours. Save more than the cost of the cards in 2 days.


May 12, 2014at2:14 am, Joey Serpa said:

Just used ours today to get into Yosemite for free!


May 12, 2014at12:57 am, Robert Ambrose said:

Just got mine in April and it was the best $10 I ever spent!


May 11, 2014at11:24 pm, Sherilyn Morrill said:

Got one, great investment


May 11, 2014at9:14 pm, Wayne Smith said:

My sister-in-law bought us life time pass years ago. Have used it a lot. It’s great.


May 11, 2014at7:19 pm, Sarah Domengeaux Brombaugh said:

Had ours for years. Best $10.00 investment ever!! 🙂


May 11, 2014at5:44 pm, Eleanor Hudson said:

Yes, I got mine too now for several years and it definitely is the best investment in being able to see our beautiful country at a bargain… not only to mention all the senior discounts along the way… remember to always ask wherever you go… some have really surpised me!


May 11, 2014at5:03 pm, Richard An D Veronica said:

Just got ours in April, looking forward to using it. Better than paying the $80 p/yr!!


May 11, 2014at4:43 pm, Audrey McGrath Fitzgerald said:

Just got mine four days ago!


May 11, 2014at3:56 pm, Debra Black said:

Enjoying ours.


May 11, 2014at3:31 pm, Helen Degerstrom Lunt said:



May 11, 2014at3:25 pm, Glenda Cain said:

just ordered mine


May 11, 2014at3:06 pm, Bob Lopes said:

I still have mine,, great investment.


May 11, 2014at2:16 pm, Marilyn Kearns Hilborn said:

Love ours! We have used them a lot.


May 11, 2014at1:56 pm, Mary L. Moore said:



May 11, 2014at1:35 pm, Steve Zeck said:

Got mine at the Forsythe in Galloway


May 11, 2014at12:46 pm, Craig Hamblin said:

Also, if you have handicapped license plates or window tag you can get free admission to all national parks and monuments. They will issue the pass at any of the parks.


May 11, 2014at11:49 pm, Cindy Black Bearden said:

If permanently disabled, you can get the Access Pass. Doesn’t require plates or tags. I have a brain injury so no plates or tags. Most of the parks can issue, but not all. Free. Also, some state’s parks honor this or have their own you can get for free or very cheap (<$5) – California, TX for example.


May 11, 2014at12:05 pm, Janice Browning Wilson said:

Don’t forget to use it in Puerto Rico.


May 11, 2014at11:50 am, Mary Zuschlag said:

They still honor Golden Age.


May 11, 2014at11:31 am, Joyce La Jeunesse said:

Where do you get them?


May 11, 2014at10:35 am, Roger W Spencer said:

Does this mean my ‘Golden Age Pass’ is no longer good?


May 11, 2014at11:51 pm, Cindy Black Bearden said:

Still good. Just changed the name.


May 11, 2014at10:21 am, David Herrmann said:

Picked one up on our last trip to the Great Smoky Mtns.


May 11, 2014at10:11 am, Rochelle Furtah said:

One of the few silver linings of turning 62!


May 11, 2014at10:08 am, Phil C Pace said:

Best thing you can get from the government… 🙂


May 11, 2014at10:04 am, William Terry Robbins said:

Had mine since 2010. Great perk! Pick up at any National Park once you are 62.


May 11, 2014at10:03 am, Cheryl Badinger said:

Where do you get it


May 11, 2014at9:41 am, Jay Acerra said:

wow now thats great thank you!!!!


May 11, 2014at9:33 am, Shirley Walsh Allen said:

I got mine about 6 yrs. Ago!!


May 11, 2014at9:24 am, Alan F Dedman said:

We never leave home without it, great value!!


May 11, 2014at9:20 am, John O'Connell said:

Best $10.00,I ever spent.


May 11, 2014at9:14 am, Joan Thum Bloom said:

Have is a good thing!!!!


May 11, 2014at9:13 am, Donnie L. Grinnan said:

Got mine & use it!


May 11, 2014at9:11 am, Ellie Chauvin said:

Best $10 investment in the country….world. Sooo many great Parks, Battlefields, Historic Parks & Sites. Also half price on tours.


May 11, 2014at9:02 am, Karen Silverman said:

Can hardly wait;)


May 11, 2014at9:01 am, Carolyn Reid said:

I have one and use it everywhere to show that I am a Senior! #loveroadtripping


May 11, 2014at9:00 am, Meg Turner said:

It’s for the US. Not Canada.


May 11, 2014at8:49 am, Sarah 'Sally Fulmer' Bickett said:

We have ours. Didn’t realize till this year that it got us into most national parks free.


May 11, 2014at8:41 am, Ross Murphy said:

I have mine and have used it many times.


May 11, 2014at8:39 am, Christine Weeks Vallis Naylor said:

We have one also. With us at all times. It is great.


May 11, 2014at8:33 am, Bud Roberts said:

Got two (mine and my wife)


May 11, 2014at8:25 am, Jackie Sayles said:

Don’t leave home without it!


September 09, 2013at4:33 pm, Jane McArdle said:

sadly neither dear hubby or my self qualify for the Senior card but I understand there is a disabled card I just have to keep searching for the site or where it get it from thanks


September 09, 2013at4:56 pm, Campskunk said:

here’s a link to the Access Pass information, and how to get one:


August 11, 2013at6:09 pm, Barbara K said:

Thanks for the tip! Went and got mine immediately!


August 05, 2013at11:04 am, Bill Sprague said:

We’ve been loving ours for the past 7 years! Oh and you can take your Roadtrek full of folks with you and just flash one card! What a bargain!


August 03, 2013at9:28 pm, Roberta said:

I got mine about a month ago…


August 03, 2013at4:08 pm, Maureen said:

Oops, forgot this site for BC which is easy to view different geographic areas of BC.‎


August 03, 2013at3:41 pm, Maureen said:

Campskunk….thought some of your readers might be interested in the these sites, this one for BC Parks
and this one for Canada National Parks There is wonderful information on BC and Canadian Parks and I believe the Discovery Pass can be purchased by anybody…so if you are planning an extended trip through BC and/or Canada you might want to check out these sites.


August 03, 2013at3:12 pm, shari groendyk said:

It’s great advice, RT. DH and I both bought the Senior Pass last fall and it allowed us free entry this summer to the Badlands National Park, Yellowstone NP, and Grand Tetons NP this summer. DH was in one van with 2 adults and 2 gkids and I was in another van with 2 adults and 2 gkids. Had we not had the Passes with us, we would’ve paid $65 per van, a total of $130. I figure it’s either in Uncle Sam’s pocket, or in my pocket, so for very little effort, we kept it in our pocket. Were we smiling at every entrance booth? Oh. yeh.


August 03, 2013at10:46 am, Moisés de Pontes Lima said:


I am Brazilian and I live in Brazil, I am interested in buying a motorhome on a shared basis for use in period of 30 days per year, someone is interested in selling a motor home?
Moses Pontes Lima


August 03, 2013at10:18 am, Jim Diepenbruck said:

To put it in perspective. On our trip west last year, we visited and camped at Little Bighorn, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The Senior Pass saved more than enough to get a FREE tank of gas. 🙂


August 03, 2013at10:11 am, Tim Ernst said:

Hey Lisa, the official name in red on the back of the card is “America The Beautiful – The National Parks And Federal Recreation Lands Pass” – on the front it just says “Annual Pass” – the photo changes each year, and the one I bought in January has a red kayak on it. Not all federal campgrounds accept this for 1/2 price camping, but most of them do, and most accept it for free entry. You can also get a hang tag with it so you can display the card on your mirror for dayuse parking, etc. Even at $80, this card usually saves us at least a couple hundreds bucks a year, sometimes a lot more…


August 03, 2013at9:47 am, Lisa said:

Tim- I didn’t realize that was another one for those of us under 62. What’s it called so I can look it up? That would come in handy for when I get to solo camp!


August 03, 2013at10:42 am, Campskunk said:

here’s some annual pass info: it can be used in some, but not all, of the places the senior pass can be used. for instance, corps of engineers campsites honor the senior pass but not the annual pass. i think the park system, the BLM, and the national forests consider the passes interchangeable, though.


August 03, 2013at9:33 am, Tim Ernst said:

The version of this card for the rest of us folks that are under 62 costs $80 a year – just a few visits to the $25 parks like the Tetons, or several campground stays will pay for it – plus not having to always check in as noted above just makes life easier. The cards encourage visitors to our national lands and are a great deal for sure. THANKS go to our government for having this program!


August 03, 2013at8:44 am, Laura HughesPostema said:

We have our calendar marked! Ken turns 62 next year…we’ll have one of these cards the next day! Thank you for all the links you provided, too. Happy trails!


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