I think that you’ll agree with me when I say that the only thing better than a summer vacation is a summer vacation for free. Fortunately, America is home to a number of scenic and enjoyable national parks, each of which offer free admission for older adults. That’s 58 parks waiting for you to explore their forests, seashores and monuments – all at no cost.

Requirements

To get into America’s national parks for free, you must be a U.S. citizen over the age of 62. If you don’t meet these requirements, the pass costs $10 when you buy it in person or $20 if you purchase by mail. The passes are good for life, so you’ll only need to get it once. The best part about the pass is that it provides free admission for you and anyone traveling in the same vehicle as you.

What You Get

Not only will you have admission to America’s 58 national parks, the pass will also allow you entry to all units operated by the National Park Service. That includes national forests, seashores, national monuments, preserves, battlefields, wildlife refuges and other federal reclaimed parklands. Furthermore, entry fees at a number of facilities within the national parks are reduced by fifty percent with the pass, such as boating fees, camping fees and guided tours. You will also receive a discount at gift shops and bookstores in national parks.

Where to Go

If you decide to get a national parks pass, you’ll probably want to know what parks you should visit first. Take a look at this list of top five most visited national parks to decide which ones spark your interest.

Great Smoky Mountains

Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its gorgeous forest setting. The park is home to diverse plant and animal life as well as the ancient Southern Appalachian Mountains. It is America’s most visited national park and is an incredibly popular attraction during the summer months.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon National Park comes in at number two on the list. Located in Arizona, the park is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Though the canyon itself is the main attraction, it is also known for its breathtaking views and indescribable landscape.

Yosemite

Yosemite is a large valley located in the state of California. Best known for its picturesque waterfalls, you can also find deep valleys, grand meadows, massive sequoias and an enormous wilderness area in the park. Yosemite is a perfect place to explore if you love warm weather and magnificent views.

Yellowstone

Home to Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park is located in the state of Wyoming. The park was established as America’s first national park in 1872. It is known for its mountainous landscape and is home to grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk. This is a great place to visit if you are interested in animal wildlife.

Olympic

Located in the state of Washing, Olympic National Park is often described as three parks in one. When visiting Olympic, you can spend the day exploring scenic mountains, beautiful meadows filled with wildflowers and multicolored ocean tide pools. Olympic is also home to some of the largest remnants of ancient forests in the country. This national park is a fabulous combination of history and beauty.

Sources:
http://www.doi.gov/tourists/get-a-pass.cfm
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2007/07/top-10-most-visited-national-parks

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living