Military Veterans and 5th Graders Will Now Get to Visit National Parks for Free

Gold Star families will also be able to enter for free.

Fifth-grade students and military veterans will receive free entrance to national parks and wildlife refuges as part of new programs to increase access to public lands.

The young students will see waived entrance fees for them and their families until Aug. 31, 2021, the National Parks Service said on Wednesday, to ensure that kids who missed out on the “Every Kid Outdoors Annual 4th Grade Pass” due to the COVID-19 pandemic can still benefit. The pass applies to entrance fees, but does not include fees for things like camping or boat rides.

“Programming was limited at times for last year’s fourth graders... so we’re allowing this year’s 5th graders free access to our public lands throughout the 2020-2021 academic year,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said in a statement. “We hope these kids and their families take advantage of the incredible physical and mental benefits of getting outside and visiting a park, refuge or campground near them.”

father and son hiking in a forest
Cavan Images/Getty

Vouchers for fifth grade students can be printed online on the NPS’ website. Passes for fourth grade students can be accessed on the Every Kid Outdoors website.

Also on Wednesday, Bernhardt announced that military veterans and Gold Star families will gain access to the parks and federal lands for free starting on Nov. 11 — Veterans Day. The included public lands encompass several national cemeteries and battlefields like Minuteman National Historic Park in Massachusetts, commemorating the opening of the American Revolution.

Bernhardt said the passes are being given “with the utmost respect and gratitude” so people can visit “the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect.”

In addition to students and those associated with the military, the Department of the Interior gives out free or discounted passes to those with permanent disabilities, volunteers, and people aged 62 or older.

The NPS also offers several free days each year where all entrance fees are waived for any member of the public. Nov. 11 is the next scheduled free day.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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