Military members and their families and their dependents are now eligible to receive a free annual pass to U.S. National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. Beginning May 19, 2012, all active duty military members and their families can receive the free annual pass with proper identification – a Common Access Card (CAC) for the military member and DD Form 1173 for dependents (see more info about getting a replacement military ID card if you need a new one).
How to get a free annual pass: You must apply for the free pass in person at the National Park or Federal Recreation Land with your ID in hand.
What is covered with the free pass? Passes cover entrance to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites that charge Entrance Fees, and Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites.
The pass covers admission for the annual pass owner and the passengers in their vehicle (up to 3 adults per vehicle, age 16 and over; no charge for children under age 16).
Are free passes available for veterans? Unfortunately, no. This offer is good for active duty servicemembers and their dependents. There may be discounts for veterans depending on location, and there are also discounts available to seniors: those age 62 and over can apply for a Senior Pass.
Veterans with a permanent disability can apply for an Access Pass, which is a free lifetime pass which can be obtained in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office or by mail.
What else do I need to know? Passes are good for one year after they are issued (to the end of the month in which they were issued). The pass has two signature lines, and is only god once it is signed. It must be signed by the service member, and may also be signed by a dependent. The pass is non-transferrable, so it is only good for the person it is issued to (or the other dependent who signed the pass). Dependents can use the pass without the service member present as long as they have signed the document.
The pass only allows entrance to the passengers in one non-commercial vehicle (age limits given above). There are exceptions for motorcycles and bicycles- the pass may cover admission for two people on separate motorcycles if both members signed the card, otherwise, only the person who signed the card will receive free admission. The pass will cover up to 4 people on bicycles.
The pass does not cover extended amenities such as camping, boat launching, parking, special tours, special permits or ferries.
Get out and see America! This is a great way for service members and their families to visit some of America’s natural wonders without worrying about breaking the bank to do so (some annual passes cost upwards of $80 per year). ake advantage of this opportunity to visit your National Parks for free if you are an active duty member of the military or dependent.
More info: National Parks Free Military Pass.
Photo credit: Al_HikesAZ.