Veterans, Gold Star, fifth graders get into federal parks for free

The Department of the Interior is granting veterans and Gold Star families free access to national parks and other public lands starting Nov. 11, 2020.

Gold Star families were added to free admission to parks under legislation introduced by Sen. Steve Daines earlier this year.

Gold Star families are those who are next of kin to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost their lives in a qualifying situation, such as war, international terrorist attack, or military operations outside of the United States.

Department of the Interior has also recently waived entrance fees to national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands and waters managed by the agency for all fifth grade students and their families now through Aug. 31.

The action was taken to extend the Every Kid Outdoors Annual Fourth Grade Pass, in case families were unable to use it this year, due to the pandemic. The purpose of the program is to ensure every child in the United States has a chance to visit public parks by the age of 11.

“The Trump Administration has made expanding public access to America’s national parks and public lands a top priority, especially during this year’s pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “Programming was limited at times for last year’s fourth graders through the Every Kid Outdoors program, so we’re allowing this year’s 5th graders free access to our public lands throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. 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.”

Families and students can download their 5th grade passes online at

The pass waives only the standard amenity fees. It does does not cover expanded fees, for things like camping or boat rides.

Nearly all units and locations are currently accessible with many having restored services for the public to enjoy following proper public health and safety guidelines.