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Veterans and National Parks

There are currently 423 areas in the National Park System of the United States, covering over 85 million acres. The wonderful news is, Veterans have free access to all of them.

It doesn’t stop there. US Military, Veterans, and Gold Star families are eligible to receive free lifetime access to over 2000 federal recreations areas. These areas include national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests.

As of December 27, 2021 the Annual Interagency Military Pass is being changed over to a lifetime pass for Gold Star families and Veterans. While the passes are in the process of being printed and delivered, Veterans and Gold Star families may continue to use the Annual Interagency Military Passes.

Note that the lifetime pass is for free entrance to the federal areas. The do not include expanded amenities or user fees for other activities such as reservation fees, special tours or camping.

Veteran Eligibility

For the Free Access Program, the National Park Service considers a Veteran being an individual who has served in the US Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves. They will have to be able to present one of the following forms of identification.

  • Depart of Defense Identification Card (non-expired CAC Card)
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Veteran designation on a state issued US Driver’s license or identification card

Gold Star Family Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for Gold Star Families are listed in Department of Defense Instruction 1348.36 Section 3.2.

Agencies Participating in the Free Access Program

With the Lifetime Access Pass (currently the Annual Pass), the following agencies are waiving their entrance or standard amenity fees.

  • US National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Forests Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

You can obtain a free pass by visiting one of the federal locations that issue passes.

This program makes it easier and more convenient for Veterans to get out and visit National Parks. Take advantage of it to explore some of the most beautiful areas of America.

As always, if you have any questions please leave a comment in the section below of email us at

God Bless, NWAVet

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