As I head out of my 50s, my husband’s advanced years have turned out to be a gift for the two of us. Last year he turned 62, and was eligible for the $10 lifetime pass to all national parks. So we decided to make our rounds to get our money’s worth, and had friends lining up to join us on our adventures. You see, not only do he and I get in for free, but everyone in our car gets to benefit as well. No matter how old or young they might be.
Our journeys so far:
Trip 1: The Grand Canyon.
This is where we purchased the sacred pass, and chose to do this one by ourselves. Spectacular rim vistas; perfect hiking weather; limited animal sightings. After two days of hiking, both in and out of the canyon, we left completely satisfied at being able to cross that one off our bucket list.
Trip 2: Denali National Park, Alaska.
Drastically different from the Grand Canyon – no walking trails, no food or drinks sold in the park, no sweeping vistas of the mountain (too foggy), and long bus rides being the only option to see the park. Best part of that trip was being with dear, old friends (we were celebrating Jack’s 60th), and taking a guided hike where only one other group is allowed to hike per season. Also saw a moose up close!
Trip 3: Glacier National Park.
My favorite. We also got to experience this one with close friends, one of whom spent three summers 35 years ago working at the park. He planned the whole trip (the job I usually do), which I greatly appreciated. Glacier had the perfect combination of magnificent scenery, and close-up animal sightings. We saw grizzlies, black bears, mountain goats, and big-horned sheep – just to name a few.
We also took an outstanding hike in Waterton to beautiful Crypt Lake. I happened to be reading Cheryl Strayed’s best seller, “Wild” about her life-altering experience hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. I believe if I had not been reading this book, I would never have found the courage to climb the ladder on the mountain face, crawl through the narrow tunnel, and pull myself over 15 feet of cables to make it to the other side of the mountain. This was the only way in and out of the lake, and well worth the challenge.
All told, I highly recommend that all 62 year olds run to their nearest national park to buy a lifetime pass! It’s the best thing to happen to seniors since Medicare.