Seniors rush to buy lifetime pass to national parks before $70 increase in August

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ANCHORAGE, (KTUU) - Many seniors, like Richard Funner, enjoy hitting the road during the summer, visiting all Alaska has to offer. And Funner wants to make sure he gets to visit national parks, like Denali National Park, for the lowest price.

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He’s one of hundreds of seniors in Anchorage rushing to buy the $10 lifetime national park pass, before the deal ends.

“I'm going to be able to spend more money now - it's great, “said Funner.

Clarence Wadkins, spokesperson for the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, said he has seen an increase of people at their downtown Anchorage location.

“We have had a number of people making a dash in, to gather this pass," Wadkins said. "We have gone (past) last year, we sold about 353 passes to over 1,200 passes this year."

That’s because on August 28, the cost of a lifetime pass for those ages 62-years-old and older will jump from $10 to $80.

“I'm thrilled that I got it for this deal. As far as I am concerned, it is a deal,” said Funner.

Last year, Congress approved legislation - part of the National Park Service Centennial Act - which raises fees, in order to help visitor services.

“Repair the roads - things of that nature," Wadkins said. "The key thing is that most parks will keep their 80 to 100 percent of the revenue that is brought in."

This is the first price hike for the senior pass, since 1994.

Those who already have a lifetime senior pass will be grandfathered in. And there is good news for those exploring on a budget.

“We do have an annual pass that they have created," said Wadkins. "This annual pass for seniors will be $20. If the senior keeps that after its usage - save it, because next time that you do another $20 pass. As you retain these and it equals $80, turn those in and get a $80 lifetime pass."

Despite the increase, Funner said it’s still a bargain to see America’s national treasures.

“It is priceless,” he said.

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