yosemite national park, california
Entry to places like Yosemite National Park is free with a senior pass. By Su-May via Flickr

One of the great outdoor deals for Old Farts is about to go way up in price. The National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands lifetime senior pass gets free admission for any U.S. resident 62 or older at more than 2,000 recreation sites nationwide. It applies to pretty much any place managed by six federal agencies and applies to entrance, standard amenity, or day-use fees.

But you’d better act fast, because on August 28, the price jumps from $10 to $80. ( I guess the government is taking a page out of the pharmaceutical companies’ book when it comes to pricing.) The $10 price applies to over-the-counter sales—at least until they run out of their supply of passes, so you might want to call ahead—at recreation areas managed by the following six agencies:

National Park Service • USDA Forest Service • Fish and Wildlife Service • Bureau of Land Management • Corps of Engineers • Bureau of Reclamation

Can’t make it to one of those? You can still buy the passes online for $20 here. I guess the extra $10 is a “convenience fee.” But it’s still a deal.

I got mine just last weekend at Prince William Forest Park, a National Park Service area 30 miles south of D.C. A seven-day vehicle pass would have cost me $5. Instead, I persuaded the ranger at the gate to let me go buy the Senior Pass. Now I can go whenever I want and never pay another cent.

The lady at the visitor center where I bought mine gave me some good information as we conducted the transaction.

Me: “So once I buy this I’m good for life?”

Lady: “That’s right.”

Me: “What if I lose it? I mean, I lose pretty much everything—my driver’s license, credit cards, photo—”

Lady: “So does my husband. That man loses everything. He’d lose his backside if it wasn’t attached. But that doesn’t matter.”

Me: “It’s not enough to have bought one? I mean, don’t they put you in the system?”

Lady: “That’s the thing. There isn’t any system. No database. Just the card. You lose it, you have to buy a new one. And if it’s after August 28, you pay $80, just like everybody else.”

Me: “Can I buy two now?”

Lady: “I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

I intend to be around for a long time, so even if I have to replace it for $80 someday, I’ll still be money ahead.