Mention the fact that you're a senior when you make your reservations. All major airlines, car-rental firms, and most Virginia hotels offer discounts for seniors, especially members of AARP, 601 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20049 (tel. 800/424-3410 or 202/434-2277; www.aarp.org). AARP offers members a wide range of benefits, including AARP The Magazine and a monthly newsletter. Anyone over 50 can join.
A committee of deranged bureaucrats must have come up with the tongue-tying name of the America the Beautiful -- National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass -- Senior, which is also known as the America the Beautiful Senior Pass, or among bureaucrats as the Interagency Senior Pass. Like the National Park Service's former Golden Age Passport, which is still honored, it gives anyone 62 years or older -- and passengers in their noncommercial vehicles -- entrance to national parks, monuments, and historic sites, plus national recreation areas and wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Agriculture Department. The senior pass costs a one-time fee of $10, lasts for a lifetime, and must be purchased in person at any national park, recreation area, or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee (there are several of them in Virginia, so it can result in big savings). Besides free entry, it also offers a 50% discount on some federal-use fees charged for such facilities as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours -- but not on fees charged by concessionaires. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm or call tel. 888/467-2757.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.