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National Parks Now Free for Veterans & Gold Star Families

Free Entry to National Parks for Veterans and Gold Star Families

Free Entry into National Parks for Veterans & Gold Star Families

The federal government, as of Veterans Day 2020, has granted free access to National Parks and other federal lands to veterans and Gold Star Families. Entrance and standard recreation fees will be waived, allowing them access to 2,000 locations under a new initiative from the Department of Interior. Others participating in the program who manage lands and waters are the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How do veterans gain access to national parks for free?

This change already exists for active-duty members, their dependents, and Guard and Reserve members. Although this has been extended towards honorably discharged veterans and Gold Star Families, veterans’ immediate family members will not be included. Therefore, veterans and their families can use the veteran pass if the entrance fees are paid per vehicle. If the entrance fee is paid per person, only the veteran is allowed to enter for free. In order to enter the national parks, one of these forms of identification should be presented:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card (CAC Card)
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • State-issued card displaying veteran status

How do Gold Star Families gain access for free?

A Gold Star Family are immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost his/her life in combat, in an international terrorist attack, or in support of certain military activities outside of the United States. Before visiting a national park, Gold Star Family members must download and print a voucher to present to the ranger or place it on their vehicle dashboard. Gold Star Families must present the following:

What does this program include?

This program covers the entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees. However, fees still apply for expanded amenities such as parking fees, camping, recreation permits, tours, etc. You can read more about it on the NPS website.