As a senior, you have the time to travel and explore the world. You can visit new places and see amazing things. One overlooked area to explore is the country’s National Parks system. The National Park system was created in 1916 and is a crown jewel. Today, the system has 419 parks covering more than 85 million acres. A national park exists in all 50 states. Some are large parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite, but others are smaller battlefields and historic sites.
There are a wealth of opportunities for seniors at the nation’s National Parks. You should take the time to see what the National Parks have to offer.
The federal government offers a Senior Pass to anyone 62 years of age or older. The pass is $80. It is non-refundable or transferable but is good for the rest of your life. The pass will get you into all of the properties managed by the National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation US Forest Service and US Army Corps of Engineers. That’s a total of over 2,000 properties.
With the pass you can begin the process of exploring the National Park system. You will see the beauty and wonder that makes these pieces of property worth preserving.
The Park Service is always looking for people who are interested in volunteering, and retired people make up a large percentage of the volunteer workforce. Volunteers staff visitor centers, run special events, do trail maintenance and are camp hosts. The work is as varied and diverse as the national park system itself. You start by identifying a park you want to volunteer at and research the opportunities. Here's a list of volunteer opportunities.
Work for the Park Service
If you really want to get involved in National Park Service, you can apply for a job. In fact, over half of the workforce within the National Park system is over the age of 50. It’s usually seasonal work, and the pay isn’t extremely high. But it’s a great way to stay active and engaged with people. You can work in a concession stand or give an information talk. Often housing is providing during the summer tourist season, so you get to live in the park. More information is at https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/workwithus.htm.
Explore a Trail
Even if you don’t want to work or volunteer, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore the National Park system. You can take a walk along a trail, for example. The difficulty levels vary and many of the trails are paved and easily accessible. Besides getting a workout, you can also gain mental health benefits from hiking on trail. A recent survey found that 75% of respondents reported reduced stress levels while outdoors, and 63% believe outdoor activities would increase their lifespan.
Get Your National Parks Passport Stamped
The National Park system offers passport books. Much like an international passport, you get the passport stamped when you visit a national park. Most of the more than 400 National Parks offer a stamp to visitors. The stamp will have the date you visited the park and the name of the park. You can use it to keep track of all the places that you visited.