The standard national park entry fee, levied per passenger vehicle, is $20.
There is an Annual Pass, which is good at all national parks plus other federal recreational facilities; its cost is $80.
Some years I visit enough of these parks that I purchase the annual pass. Others years I don’t visit parks as often, so I just pay $20 at each one.
I have no problem with these fees, which are quite reasonable. In fact, I wouldn’t mind paying more, on the principle that those who use facilities should carry the chief burden of operating them. It certainly can’t be considered a hardship for people to pony up $20 when they’re spending 50 or 100 times that just to go on their vacation!
There is another pass that I do object to. It’s the Senior Pass. It can be purchased by people age 62 and over, costs just $10, and is good for a lifetime. I don’t think people of retirement age (which I’m nearing) should be subsidized this way, while young families are expected to pay the regular fees. I’m not arguing for a subsidy for the young; I don’t think any group should be subsidized, because there’s no end to the mischief that can result.
The irony is that Americans in their 60s have more net wealth and more disposable income than those in any other 10-year age bracket, so they are the ones who least “need” such subsidizing. Younger people may have larger gross incomes, but seniors, as a group, have lower expenses, chiefly because those of them who are homeowners tend to have no mortgage to pay. This means they end up with more disposable income.
You see a disproportionate number of seniors at national parks not just because they have more free time but because they have more money to spend on trips.