Editor’s note: this blog was updated Sept. 30, 2020.
Spring flowers are blooming, the summer travel season quickly approaches and Veterans are joining the 330-million yearly visitors enjoying U.S. National Parks.
Many Veterans, with a service connected disability rating, are entering Federal recreation lands and national parks for free with an America the Beautiful-the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands lifetime Access Pass through an interagency partnership between the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. Good for entry into thousands of federally managed recreation sites across the country, the Lifetime Access Pass is another way a grateful nation says thank you for the service and sacrifices of U. S. Veterans with disabilities.
The Access Pass admits the pass owner and any passengers in a single, private vehicle (non-commercial) at per-vehicle entrance and day use fee areas; or, the pass owner plus three additional adults where per-person fees are charged. In addition to free entry at participating sites, the Access Pass includes discounts on some expanded amenity fees such as camping. Sites recommend that pass owners check with each site before visiting for details about Access Pass entry and discounts.
Veterans who have been medically determined to have a disability are eligible for the Lifetime Access Pass—with three options for obtaining the pass:
First, Veterans with disability documentation can order the Access Pass online for a $10 processing fee which includes standard shipping. Documentation required includes:
- Proof of residency
- VA disability award letter, VA summary of benefits, or proof of SSDI income
Second, the Interagency Access Pass may be obtained through the mail. Download a paper application from https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass. Follow the instructions on the website and pay the document processing fee of $10. Once the application package is received by USGS, the documentation will be verified and a pass imprinted with the pass owner’s name will be mailed to the applicant.
Passes ordered online or through the mail will be delivered 3 to 4 weeks after receipt of documentation and processing payment.
A third option is for disabled Veterans to visit a participating federal recreation site where interagency passes are issued, present photo identification (e.g., Driver’s license, State ID, birth certificate, Passport, or permanent resident card), provide documentation of permanent disability, or read and sign a Statement of Permanent Disability affidavit. That’s It. The Pass is free and issued at the time of entry.
Make sure to have photo ID available when using your Lifetime Access Pass and enjoy the majestic scenery and abundant recreational opportunities our National Parks provide. For additional questions regarding the pass, please check out the Frequently Asked Questions.
If Veterans feel they were incorrectly denied a pass, they may request to speak to the fee program supervisor on duty or submit an application for the pass at https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass.