Veterans and Gold Star Families Granted Lifetime Free Access to National Parks

The National Park Services announced that beginning on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, all veterans and gold star families will be granted free access to all of the national parks. This includes wildlife refuges and forests. However, this free access does not include amenity or user fees such as camping, transportation, special tours, or special recreation permits. This also includes lands and waters managed by the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To gain access into a National Park a veteran, who is described as, “an individual who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves”, must provide one of the following forms of ID when entering the park:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card (CAC Card)
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card


Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

Here is a list of the agencies managed by the Department of the Interior that are participating in this program:


There are hundreds of National Park sites in the United States that span over 84 million acres in each state and extend to territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Samoa. Many of these sites have ties to the military which will enable veterans and gold star families to experience the rich history of the U.S. for free. Many of these parks feature great hiking destinations, camping, cycling, climbing, and other activities that are popular vacation spots.

Current members of the military and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass to national parks through the interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program. Discounted and free passes are available for persons with a permanent disability, 4th grade students, senior citizens aged 62 or older, and volunteers. So if you qualify for the free or discount access to the National Parks now is a great time to visit!



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