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Veterans and Gold Star Families Now Get Free Entry to U.S. National Parks | Frommer's Frank Fischbach / Shutterstock

Veterans and Gold Star Families Now Get Free Entry to U.S. National Parks

Sometimes Democrats and Republicans can agree.

In November 2020, the Trump administration announced that entry to the U.S. national parks would be free for veterans and Gold Star Families (relatives of service members killed on active duty) for an unspecified period.

Then on December 27, 2021, President Biden made that waiver permanent under the Alexander Lofgren Veterans in the Park Act, which was named for the congressional staffer and Afghanistan War veteran who lost his life hiking in Death Valley last spring. 

The new law, which came into effect with the National Defense Authorization Act, waives entry fees at federal recreation sites across the country, including national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges—some 2,000 locations in all.

Previously, only active duty military service members were given this perk.

The new waiver allows for free entry but does not cover the costs of camping, parking, and other services in these parks. Information about the I.D. requirements for obtaining the pass are spelled out on the National Park Service website.

Lofgren worked in the office of Arizona congressman Raúl Grijalva, who co-sponsored the bill and released a statement about the passage of the act: "[Lofgren] dedicated his time to serving fellow veterans and loved our national parks and sharing the peace that it brought him with others. With the signing of this law, now we permanently give the gift of free entry to national parks to our veterans and Gold Star families to use nature to help with their healing.”

Pictured above: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah