Q:

What happened to the National Parks pass, Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access passports?

A:

Quick Answer

As of 2015, the U.S. National Park Service no longer accepts Golden Eagle Passports and National Parks Passes; it sells annual passes instead. While it accepts Golden Age and Golden Access Passports, it no longer sells them, selling Interagency Senior and Access Passes instead.

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Full Answer

Golden Eagle Passports, which cost $65, and National Parks Passes, which cost $50, allowed pass holders, their spouses, children and parents entrance into most national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas and wildlife refuges for free. The U.S. National Park Service stopped selling them on Dec. 31, 2006, and replaced them with annual passes, which are $80 as of 2015 and good for one year from date of purchase and provide access to all national parks and federal recreation sites that charge an entrance fee. Passes cover admission fees for all passengers in a noncommercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas. They also work at per-person fee areas, covering the pass holder and three adults.

National parks and federal recreation sites that charge an entrance fee continue to accept Golden Age and Golden Access Passports, which are lifetime passes the U.S. National Park Service made available to seniors. Its comparable Interagency Senior and Interagency Access Passes, which cost $10 as of 2015, give U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 and older lifetime access.

The primary difference between the Golden Age and Access Passport programs and the Interagency Senior and Access Pass Program is who can use the passes. While Golden Age and Golden Access Passports admit the pass holder, his spouse and his children at per-person fee sites, the Interagency Senior and Access Passes admit the pass holder and three additional people, regardless of their relationship. The U.S. National Park Service lets pass holders with paper copies of Golden Age or Access Passports exchange them for Interagency Recreation Passes for free but, as of January 2015, did not make a similar exchange program available to pass holders who have plastic cards.

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