15 Best National Parks for Seniors To Visit in 2024

NEWS & TRENDING - TRAVEL NEWS
Some of the most beautiful national parks in the country offer special perks to older adults.
Updated April 11, 2024
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From Yosemite to the Everglades, many retirees have national park visits on their bucket list.

The National Park Service even offers a senior pass for anyone 62 or over. Seniors can purchase an annual pass for $20 or a lifetime pass for $80 to get unlimited access to any park. This is a great deal, no matter where you stand financially.

Of course, some parks are more accessible than others. So, if you want to step up your travel game, here are the 15 best national parks for seniors to visit this year.

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Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

andreykr/Adobe scenic view at badlands

Aging in Place — an organization that offers resources for older adults — has released a ranking of the most accessible national parks. Badlands National Park took the top spot.

The rugged and beautiful park has visitor centers, trails, and even campgrounds with ramps and that are accessible to all, including those in wheelchairs.

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

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Many of Grand Canyon National Park facilities were built before modern accessibility standards were established. However, all the park's shuttle buses are accessible to those in wheelchairs, and plenty of areas around the park can be comfortably explored.

Grand Canyon also offers a "Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit" that allows visitors with mobility issues to access areas not otherwise open to the public.

Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

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Yellowstone National Park — the country’s first national park — also made Aging in Place’s list of the most accessible parks.

Like the Grand Canyon, some of the park’s facilities are over a century old and may not meet today’s accessibility standards. However, the park is upgrading many of its facilities, programs, and services.

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Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

Dominic Gentilcore/Adobe mesa verde national park

Mesa Verde National Park is another gem in the West that offers a lot of accessible options to seniors.

While certain trails and activities — such as the park’s cliff dwelling tours — involve hiking through steep and tough terrain, the visitor center has plenty of information about which trails and areas are accessible.

Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Adobe bryce canyon national park

Bryce Canyon National Park — a stunning park offering incredible views of massive rock formations — also earns high accessibility ratings from Aging in Place.

The park’s visitor centers and several of its viewpoints and trails are relatively easy to access. Bryce Canyon also has campgrounds that are reserved for visitors with mobility impairments.

Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

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From the ancient thermal springs to stunning hikes and mountain views, Hot Springs National Park has plenty to offer.

The park’s Fordyce Visitor Center and Gulpha Gorge Campground are accessible to all. The park boasts several short, simple, and beautiful trails as well.

Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

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While certain beach areas at Indiana Dunes National Park may be difficult to navigate, there are plenty of sites in the stunning park that are easy to navigate and great for older adult visitors.

Such sites include Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, and Dunewood Campground.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

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Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is another gem that earned top rankings on the Aging In Place list.

All the park’s visitor centers and many of its most beautiful sites, such as the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the Everett Covered Bridge, and Brandywine Falls, are accessible.

Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

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The weather can be quite unpredictable in Death Valley National Park's desert environment, but that's part of what makes it such a fascinating place to visit.

While the terrain varies quite a bit, there are several accessible trails and viewpoints throughout the park's 3.4 million acres.

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Joshua Tree National Park (California)

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Joshua Tree National Park is another bucket-list destination for many nature lovers. It has several accessible visitor centers, nature trails, and campgrounds.

The true wonder of the Mojave and Colorado deserts can be seen in the park. However, as in Death Valley, older visitors should be aware that the ecosystem can lead to some difficult weather.

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

Sean Xu/Adobe spring sunset at teton range

It may take some careful planning to truly experience the wonder of the Teton Range, but Grand Teton National Park is another breathtaking place.

Here, seniors will find plenty of options if they seek more accessible trails and easy-to-access campgrounds, lodging, and visitor centers.

Yosemite National Park (California)

Stephen/Adobe sunrise on yosemite valley

Nearly four million visitors pass through Yosemite National Park every year to marvel at stunning waterfalls, beautiful meadows, deep valleys, and more.

Among nearly 1,200 square miles of wilderness, there are plenty of accessible areas — and more on the way as the park goes through regular upgrades.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Colorado)

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Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve has the tallest dunes in North America and an incredible mix of wetlands, forests, lakes, and more.

Due to loose sand, those with limited mobility may have issues navigating the dune field. However, the park does have balloon tire wheelchairs that guests can reserve.

Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

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Gateway Arch National Park offers many ways to enjoy the stunning monument in St. Louis.

Visitors with limited mobility may have trouble accessing the tram ride to the top of the arch. Still, there are plenty of paved paths and riverboat cruises along the Mississippi River that all can enjoy.

Everglades National Park (Florida)

Irina Schmidt/Adobe everglades national park

Everglades National Park — home to the largest subtropical wilderness in the country and a habitat for many rare species, such as manatees and crocodiles — offers visitors plenty to see and do.

Many of its trails and visitor centers are accessible — as are several frontcountry campsites and the Pearl Bay Chickee backcountry campsite.

Bottom line

Katleho S/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior couple enjoying quality time

A National Park Service Senior Pass offers access to hundreds of recreation sites, including those operated by other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

If you frequent the parks, a senior pass is a great way to avoid wasting money in retirement. 

Many of these sites regularly update their facilities to be more accessible, making a park visit a great vacation option for retirees and older adults. 

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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