Earlier this week the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that all active U.S. service members, and their dependents, will now be eligible to receive a free annual pass to national parks. This new military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass will be available starting tomorrow, just in time for Armed Forces Day.
The new pass grants members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as activated members of the National Guard and Reserves, fee-free entry to over 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands across the U.S. The pass is available at any park or wildlife refuge that currently charges an entry fee, and of course a valid military ID is required. A complete list of sites where the pass is available can be found by clicking here.
The new national park pass grants free entry to its owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at all sites that currently charge a per-vehicle fee. At sites that collect per-person entrance fees, it covers the pass owner and three accompanying adults age 16 and older. There is no entry fee for children 15 and under.
The creation of this new benefit for active military personal comes from the Joining Forces Initiative, which was launched last year by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. The purpose of the organization is to rally all sectors of American society to find new ways to support service members and their families, particularly in these challenging times. So far the JFI has helped thousands of veterans to find jobs, worked with schools to improve educational opportunities for military children and connected with the medical community to improve healthcare for military families as well.