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If you are an avid reader of this blog, you may remember the post about Disabled Veterans receiving free lifetime passes to our country’s national parks. Current U.S. military members and their dependents can also get a free annual pass to national parks as well. That’s more than 397 national parks with free admission (see a full list here).
You can research all of the parks to decide which you and your family would like to visit, but we’ve also compiled a list of 10 national parks for military members and vets to visit for free.
Acadia National Park is located on the coast of Maine. This rugged, beautiful park was founded in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. The park is divided into three main areas, and some of these areas can only be accessed via horse and carriage to maintain the integrity of the park.
Biscayne National Park in Homestead, Florida is an adventure filled with snorkeling, emerald islands, and shipwrecked stories. You can experience over 10,000 years of mankind’s history as you explore the coral reefs and mangrove forests.
Sprawled across the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a rustic, beautiful charm that still has some of the Southern Appalachian mountain culture. The forest was established in 1934 and named for the morning fog that always seems to be around.
In Southern Utah, Zion National Park can be discovered near the town of Springdale. You can hike to see Echo Canyon or check out Zion’s Emerald Pools with the shimmering waterfalls and pools.
Glacier National Park in Montana is also known as “The Crown of the Continent” with some breathtaking views, which can be experienced through biking, hiking, and skiing in the winter. For some amazing photos of your trip, you can also register for a photography class at Kalispell Triple “D” Game Farm that will assist you in capturing safe pictures of the vast wildlife that calls Glacier National Park its home.
Joshua Tree National Park in California is the place where two deserts meet. The campgrounds are first come, first served from mid-May through September. You can experience multiple places within the park with their free shuttle service. Also, if you like rock climbing, this park has over 8,000 established climbing routes.
If you love hiking and remote areas, Big Bend National Park in Brewster County, Texas is the place to be. With 800,000 acres to explore, this park has over 200 trails to hike and enjoy. Only about 350,000 visitors come to this national park each year, so it is one to enjoy if you want to avoid the larger crowds.
Located along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, this park has 500-year old trees in the Hoh Rain Forest, whale-watching in La Push, relax in the mineral hot springs of Sol Duc, and gemstone fragments in Ruby Beach. You won’t get bored here when you can paddleboard, bike, hike, fish, and take boat tours to enjoy all this park has to offer.
Whether you prefer self-guided tours or want a guide to teach you, the tours of the caves at Carlsbad Caverns are not to be missed. This national park boasts of New Mexico’s geological beauty and allows visitors to experience their Bat Flight Program in the evening.
Yellowstone is one of the few places where you can explore geysers, photograph wildlife, hike, or go rafting on an active supervolcano. Not to worry though, scientists monitor the seismic activity around the clock, and there’s no threat of eruption anytime soon. You can enjoy all the beauty this famous park has to offer without the fear of the volcano becoming active.
There are nearly 400 national parks that you and your family can visit, with the added military benefit of getting in for free on an annual pass. If you would like more information on these or any other national park, please visit the National Park Service at www.nps.gov. Fees may apply for some of the activities at the parks, but you are sure to enjoy your trip to these majestic, wildlife places in our country with your free pass!