Seniors rush to purchase park passes ahead of price hike

Seniors rush to purchase park passes ahead of price hike

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Seniors are scrambling to get a lifetime pass to national parks and recreation sites before a price hike.

Workers at the Fort Moultrie National Monument, Seewee Visitors Center and the Francis Marion National Forest have been busy handling the influx of people who are trying to buy the passes before the cost skyrockets.

The lifetime senior pass is going up from ten dollars to $80 Monday.

The America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies including the National Park Service and US Forest Service.

To qualify for a senior pass, people must be US citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older.

The Fort Moultrie National Monument at Sullivan's Island is currently out of the passes but is offering rainchecks for those who stop in between 9 a.m. and noon, or 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. before the deadline.

Fort Moultrie at Sullivan's Island will be open both Saturday and Sunday, but workers there are expecting lines this weekend as seniors try to beat the
Monday deadline.

While the site is out of the plastic cards, the purchase receipt will work as a pass until the cards come in. 

The Seewee Visitors Center in Awendaw has also seen a steady flow of seniors, selling 50 of the passes on Thursday.

People are advised to call ahead at 843-928-3368 to see if cards are still available.

The Seewee Center, at 5801 Highway 17 North, is asking
seniors to pay by money order or check, and show a driver's license.

The Francis Marion National Forest office on Steed Creek Road in Huger has also sold a number of the passes, but will close at 4:30 p.m. Friday and will not be open for the weekend, according to Forestry Service spokeswoman Pam Baltimore.

The senior passes cover entrance fees as well as day-use recreation fees, but also provide some amenity recreation fee discounts.  Senior Passes also allow travel companions free admission in many cases.

The passes, which have the appearance of a credit card with a picture of a cactus with red flowers, can also be purchased online at

All orders placed on line before 11:59 p.m. Sunday will be processed at the $10 price, but orders placed after that time will be charged the new $80 fee. There is also an additional processing fee of $10.

The price of the Senior Pass has been $10 since 1994, but Congress passed legislation in December of 2016 to increase the fee to $80.

There are 417 National Park Service sites, and 118 of them have an entrance fee.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.