A portion of the Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills. (Seth Tupper/SD Searchlight)
Starting today, on Veterans Day, military veterans and Gold Star families can get a free lifetime pass to the nation’s 400 million acres of public lands, national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests.
Lifetime access for veterans was part of the Alexander Lofgren Veterans in Parks Act, which passed in December 2021. The bill authorized free lifetime access to federal lands to veterans and Gold Star families.
“We have a sacred obligation to America’s veterans,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a prepared statement. “This new lifetime pass is a small demonstration of our nation’s gratitude and support for those who have selflessly served in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Each pass covers entrance fees for a driver and up to three adult passengers at national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands.
To gain entry to a participating federal recreation area, veterans can present one of four forms of identification: A U.S. Department of Defense ID Card, Veteran Health ID, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on a state-issued ID card.
Gold Star families can get more information, self-certify that they qualify and download a voucher by visiting the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.
The Interior Department and other federal land agencies also offer fee-free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark certain days of celebration and commemoration, including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day.
Federal recreational land management agencies offer additional lifetime passes, including a Senior Pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents over age 62 and an Access Pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a permanent disability. More information is available on NPS.gov.
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