Active-duty military now can see America the Beautiful for free

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. Gosia Wozniacka/AP

Active-duty service members and their families will be able to visit the country’s national parks and wildlife refuges for free under a new federal program.

Jill Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday announced the initiative to waive entrance fees and other costs associated with more than 2,000 federal recreation sites for active-duty military and their dependents. Service members can obtain the free America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass at agency fee stations across the country by showing their military identification card.

Service members’ families also are eligible to receive their own free pass so they can visit national parks such as Yosemite, Acadia and Everglades without the service member present. “If families are traveling separately, then I would recommend that they each have their own pass,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, during a conference call with reporters Monday.

The passes, which are available to the general public for $80, are good for a year and active-duty service members will be able to renew them for free again after the year expires, Jarvis said.

The free pass is available only to those on active duty and their dependents. There are other opportunities and discounts related to the America the Beautiful pass available to veterans, said Jarvis.

Jarvis said the Park Service estimated it will lose between $2 million and $6 million in annual revenue as a result of the program. The agency collects about $150 million in revenue nationwide every year. “We don’t think this amount of decrease will be significant to the operations of the service,” Jarvis said.

Salazar is traveling to Yorktown, Va., on Tuesday to participate in an official ceremony promoting the initiative and will hand out free passes to members of all five armed services as part of the event. The free pass will be available to those eligible on May 19, Salazar said. It’s an opportunity for service members and their families to “unwind, heal, rejuvenate and have fun,” Salazar said during the conference call.

The announcement came during 2012 Armed Forces Week. Biden and first lady Michelle Obama have made increasing opportunities and benefits for military personnel and their families a top priority.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.