National Parks: Buy Your Senior Pass Before The Price Increase

National Park Service logoPopular summertime activities include visiting and camping in national parks. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) operates the nation’s 417 sites. The sites include 129 historical parks or sites, 87 national monuments, 59 national parks, 25 battlefields or military parks, 19 preserves, 18 recreation areas, 10 seashores, four parkways, four lake shores, and two reserves.

The NPS sells lifetime passes for seniors (age 62 or older) which provide access to more than 2,000 parks and recreation sites nationwide.  Six agencies participate in the Interagency Pass Program: National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. So, a senior pass provides reduced-cost access to lots of places.

The senior pass is also a bargain since the pass holder can use it plus accompanying passengers is a single, private, non-commercial vehicle. However, the price of a senior pass will rise on August 28 from $10.00 to $80.00 (plus a $10.00 processing fee). Yes, that is a 700 percent price increase!

U.S. citizens or permanent residents can buy passes. There are three ways to buy senior passes:

Applicants must provide documentation proving citizenship and age. See the Frequently Asked Questions: Recreational Passes page (USGS site) for additional information, including forms of acceptable documentation. Within the parks and recreational sites, there may be additional fees for special services (e.g., camping, swimming, boat launch, specialized interpretive services). The senior pass may provide a 50 percent discount on these fees, but does not cover fees charged by concession stands.

Not a senior? Besides standard annual passes ($80.00 each), the NPS offers a variety of annual passes: free passes for military members and their dependents, passes for 4th grade students, free passes for persons with disabilities, and free passes for volunteers.

For Dorchester residents, there are several nearby parks and recreation sites:

  • Boston National Historical Park, including the 2.5 mile (4 km) Freedom Trail®
  • Boston African American National Historic Site is located in historic Beacon Hill in downtown Boston
  • Boston Harbor Islands includes 34 islands (e.g., Georges, Spectacle, Thompson, Lovells, Peddocks, Bumpkin, etc.) and peninsulas covering more than 50 square miles. Visit historic lighthouses, explore tide pools, hike lush trails, camp under the stars, or enjoy some of the fishing, picnicking, or swimming spots.

To find more sites, use the park search finder. Another nearby site is the Adams National Historic Park in Quincy, Massachusetts. The park includes the birthplaces of two presidents, the “summer White House,” Stone Library, the Adams Carriage House, and 13 acres of a historic landscapes. Guided tours (April 19 – November 10) start at the visitor center (1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA), where senior, military, and 4th grade recreational passes can also be purchased in person.

I bought my senior pass at the Adams park in Quincy. It was fast, easy, and convenient — and I avoided the $10.00 processing fee. If you need a pass quickly, buying in person seems best. The visitor center is directly across the street from the Quincy Center station on the Braintree branch of the MBTA Red Line. There is plenty of free parking nearby.

Free Events For Bicycle Riders In Dorchester

Today’s post is 4th in a series about free events.

The Boston Neighborhood Bike Ride Series has two free events coming soon. The Neighborhood Ride Series (#IBikeBoston) welcomes riders (ages 16+, under 16 with parent present) of all abilities for a group ride exploring Dorchester streets and paths. During the rider you will see and learn about cultural and historical sights, plus parks and other favorite destinations.

The next group ride in Dorchester:
When: Saturday, August 5
Where: Starts in front of Ashmont Cycles in Peabody Square (Directions)
When: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Prizes are available for riders who complete 5 or more group rides. For more information, see the Dorchester event page, join the Boston Neighborhood Bike Ride Series group on Facebook, or follow the group on Twitter.

The next group ride scheduled is September 23 in Mattapan. Group riders in other areas of Boston are also planned.

Through its Boston Bikes program, the City of Boston seeks to “make bicycling fun, safe, and accessible.”

More Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer

Today’s post is the third in a series listing free activities this summer in Dorchester or in nearby parts of Boston. Below are activities sponsored by the Franklin Park Coalition:

Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park
Tuesday, June 18th:
11:00 am: OrigiNation – interactive dance
6:00 pm: E-Water Band
The playhouse stage is located between the zoo and White Stadium on Pierpont Road. Park rules: no alcohol, no smoking, and no BBQ.

Saturday Mornings
8:00 am: walking group. Meet at the Golf Clubhouse
9:15 am: Yoga with Linda the Wellness Warrior. Meet on Schoolmaster Hill, midway along the park road. Look for signs.

Mondays & Wednesdays
6:30 pm: Line dancing with Mz. Rhythm. Meet at Refectory Hill across from the clubhouse overlooking Blue Hill Ave.

Free Summer Activities Available Locally

Looking for free activities to do this summer? There are several within Boston:

Summer concerts in Franklin Park
The nonprofit Franklin Park Coalition produces free concerts at the Elma Lewis Playhouse from July 11 to August 15. See the website for location, parking, and related information; or to sign up for e-mail updates.

WBZ Free Family Movies
WBZ-TV and the Department of Conservation & Recreation provide free family films throughout the summer at various locations in and near Boston, including Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester:
August 10: Moana
August 17: Lego Batman
August 24: Doctor Strange
August 31: Star Wars Rogue 1
See the Massachusetts DCR site for the complete schedule (Adobe PDF) for all locations.

Summer In The City events at Rowes Wharf
The Boston Harbor Hotel produces free concerts and films downtown on the waterfront. Events start at 6:00 pm. The lineup includes R&B on Tuesdays, big band/swing on Wednesdays, Blues on Thursdays, and classic movies on Fridays. See the website for additional information and the list of musicians (Adobe PDF). The best transportation option is the MBTA: take any Red Line train to South Station and walk 3 blocks to the hotel. See map.

McConnell Playground Improvements

The City of Boston is considering a comprehensive renovation to the park, playgrounds, fields, and parking at McConnell Playground. To ensure that the improvements meets residents’ needs, the City invited Savin Hill residents to complete an online survey. The deadline for feedback is July 10, 2017.

Links to the online survey and to related documents are at:

Improvements To McConnell Playground