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Enjoy National Parks for Free

Two hikers at a national park

There’s something for almost everyone in America’s national parks. Follow these travel tips to plan your next great national park adventure:

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a sit-and-watch-the-world-roll-by kind of person, there’s a national park vacation, day trip or weekend adventure right for you.

Enjoy an outdoor adventure on a budget

Visiting a national park can be affordable, especially for service members and their families, so pick a park, pack up your car and hit the road. Here are a few travel tips as you plan your next vacation to one of the country’s 423 national parks or areas:

  • Find a park. With fields and forests, canyons and coastline, America’s national parks have something for all kinds of nature lovers. Search for parks by name, location, activity or topic at the National Park Service website.
  • Visit the park’s website. Once you pick a park, download all you need to know about hours, directions, activities and fees. While entrance fees are free for all at some parks (though parking charges may apply), military families — active duty, National Guard, reserve and Coast Guard members, dependents of U.S. military members with DD Form 1173, U.S. military cadets, veterans and gold star family members — qualify for a free America the Beautiful Military Pass (mentioned above) that can come in handy for those that do charge. Many parks issue passes on-site, or you can plan your visit to a park on one of the six free entrance dates.
  • Pick your activities. National parks offer exciting activities for all ages. If you have children, check out the Junior Ranger events and programs. Remember, you can search for activities everyone can enjoy. You can also find wheelchair-accessible activities and trails.
  • Contact the MWR program. Don’t forget to contact MWR on your installation for lodging discounts and options. Also, see what equipment you can rent before you head out on your adventure. Whether you need a kayak, skis and snow boots, or a boat, the program has a lot of gear available to rent.
  • Stop by your Information, Tickets and Travel office. This is where you can score majorly discounted tickets to nearby attractions and activities outside the parks too. ITT expanded its services through American Forces Travel℠, an e-commerce website, making ITT available 24/7. With online access to these military discounts for lodging, concerts, theater, sporting events and more, there’s no reason to pay full price.
  • Play it safe. Always follow the rules and warning signs at each park. Stay alert and observe wildlife from a safe distance. Remember to protect the wildlife by cleaning up any trash you create and don’t feed the animals.
  • Have fun. The great outdoors can bring joy to your body and mind. It can provide you with fresh air, a new perspective and time to think or relax — things many of us don’t get enough of. Take advantage of your national parks as they can be a healthy outlet for you and your family. Get up, get out and explore your world.

With free passes, discounted outdoor gear and tons of activities, you can spend quality time exploring the country’s national parks. Get free, year-round access to national parks and other federal recreation spots with the America the Beautiful Military Pass.

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