Honoring Our Veterans - Free National Park Visits Start Today

posted by Megan McDowell on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Today our county honors our service men and women with an exciting new program. Starting today, and everyday going forward, Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior. This builds on the access granted to active military, their dependents, and disabled vets.

On October 28, 2020 the U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt made the announcement for the order at the Iowa Gold Star Museum. The order waives entrance fees National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites.

Effigy Mounds

Great Bear Mound at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harpers Ferry

This means even more veterans and military families will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands where they can enjoy many outdoor activities. From water, land, and sky, our veterans can enjoy the beauty of our country.

We have sites in Iowa that are already free, like the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. While the visitor centers are closed, you can still get out on the trails at Effigy Mounds National Monument or drive through Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.

Buffaloes on the road at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge

Buffaloes on the road at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Polk City

Even though the weather is getting colder and winter is right around the corner, there are still plenty of ways Iowans around our state can get outside to enjoy the fresh air and the sights our national lands have to offer. As a veteran myself, I am looking forward to seeing more veterans and Gold Star families out on the trails and in the parks enjoying nature. What a great way to honor those who have served.

About The Author

Megan joined IEC as the Communications Assistant in April 2020, and is now in a Communications and Advocacy Assistant role, working with the water program. Megan is a Navy veteran who, thanks to the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, returned to college to pursue a caree ... read more