Troops, families get free pass to national parks
Published: May 15, 2012
Want to check out the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone this summer?
Active-duty military, National Guardsmen, reservists and military dependents will have free access to those and more than 2,000 other national parks across the country through a program unveiled Tuesday morning during a ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va. The program begins Saturday.
Servicemembers and their families can use their military ID to pick up a free “America the Beautiful” pass — usually $80 — at parks and national lands that collect fees. A full list of those sites is available here. The passes are good for a year, and service members can renew them for free next year as well.
At the ceremony, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, along with representatives of the National Park Service and the Army, distributed the first passes to members of the military. Salazar said that while just 1 percent of the country serves in the military, “we need 100 percent of Americans to be supporting our troops and their families.”
“Opening the gates” of America’s national parks and public lands is fitting, Salazar said, and will allow military and their families to spend time together, relax and unwind.
The pass is not available for free to veterans and retirees, but park services officials said other discounts are available for seniors and disabled veterans.