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Senior lifetime parks pass to jump from $10 to $80

Time is running out on one of the best travel deals around for seniors: On Aug. 28, the cost of a lifetime pass to U.S. national parks for those 62 and older will jump from $10 to $80.

For Collier County residents, the closest places to purchase the pass are:

Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee

Everglades National Park, Homestead

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island

Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key

Biscayne National Park, Homestead

Passes also can be purchased through the mail, though applications must be postmarked by Aug. 27 to secure the $10 price. And for an additional service fee of $10, passes can be purchased online at www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.

The pass — called the “America the Beautiful: The National Parks and Federal Recreational

Lands Senior Pass” — can be used for entry to more than 2,000 sites, monuments and parks across the country that are managed by the National Park Service. Those who purchase the passes before Aug. 27 will never have to pay an additional fee to visit any of the national parks, according to the NPS.

The park service has offered the lifetime senior pass for $10 since 1994. It covers all entrance, day-use and vehicle fees, and provides discounts for things such as tours and campsites. At a site that charges per-person fees, pass holders can bring along three other adults for free.

The first senior pass price increase will raise revenue to enhance the visitor experience in refuges and parks, where recent federal budget cuts have meant diminished staff and services. At “Ding” Darling alone, staff has been slashed in half during the past decade, according to a statement from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society- Friends of the Refuge.

Seniors can still opt to buy an annual pass for $20. Those who purchase an annual pass for four straight years can convert that pass to a lifetime senior pass.

Even with the 700 percent price increase, the lifetime pass is still quite a bargain: Single park-admission fees to the most popular sites — which include the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite national parks — can run as much as $30.

“If a senior visits three of the $30 parks, she or he has already saved money,” NPS spokesperson Kathy Kupper told AARP last month. “Plus, the pass allows those traveling with seniors to enter the park with them.”

In late 2016, Congress approved the National Park Service Centennial Act, legislation that raised fees and set up an endowment to help pay for projects and visitor services.

Passes are non-refundable and nontransferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen. If lost or stolen, a new pass will need to be purchased.

For more information, call 888-275- 8747, option 3, or visit www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes. ¦

Article source: http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2017-08-03/Top_News/Senior_lifetime_parks_pass_to_jump_from_10_to_80.html

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