March 20 2009 by Sam Lowe
One of the best investments I have ever made cost a mere $10 but over the years it has saved me close to $1,000. It's a Golden Age Passport, a lifetime entrance pass to national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas and national wildlife refuges that charge an entrance fee.
The pass is for citizens or permanent residents of the United States age 62 or older. Once obtained, it grants free admission to the person whose name appears on the pass and any accompanying passengers in a private vehicle if a park has a per vehicle fee. When a per person fee is charged, the passport admits the signee, spouse and children.
The passport must be obtained in person at a federal area where an entrance fee is charged. You must show proof of age and residency, something like a drivers license, birth certificate or similar document. The pass is non-transferable and does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.
The Golden Age Passport also provides a 50 percent discount on federal use fees charged for such facilities and services as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching and tours.
And here's the really good news:
There's a one-time $10 processing charge and that's all you'll ever have to pay.
With the passport in hand, you can visit nearly 50 national parks and more than 70 national monuments. Some of the more notable parks: Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Devils Tower, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Tetons, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Yosemite and Yellowstone. Among the monuments are Canyon de Chelly, Fort Pulaski, Rainbow Bridge, Capulin Volcano, Devils Tower, El Morro, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Fort Sumter, Montezuma's Castle and Sunset Crater.
Since acquiring mine, I have gained free access for myself and various companions at 16 national parks and 25 national monuments, places where non-passport holders fork over as much as $15 to get in.