Special Places to Honor Veterans

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Veterans Day is a time when Americans honor and thank U.S. military veterans for their service to their country. This is also a perfect time to enjoy America’s great outdoors and historic places, which represent much of what veterans serve to protect.  

U.S. military veterans and Gold Star families are granted free access to federal lands across the country. The free access program is a way to thank America’s veterans and Gold Star families for their support of our country and to encourage them to explore recreational opportunities on their public lands.

Free access means free entrance to national parks, federal wildlife refuges and other federal lands that normally charge entrance fees, as well as free use of standard amenities like day use, individual picnic sites, etc. at other participating federal lands. The fee waiver does not cover expanded amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, transportation, special recreation permits or special tours. For more information and answers to common questions, visit this National Park Service site.

Read our list for some highlights, then find a way to remember and honor our veterans as you enjoy some of the best our country has to offer!

Extraordinary places to honor U.S. military veterans across the country

Start Your Journey Exploring the National Mall

Washington, D.C.

Eleven granite pillars representing different States with bronze wreaths arranged in a line and illu

World War II Memorial (Erik Smith, Share the Experience)

Washington, D.C. offers so many memorable and moving places to honor veterans, you may need more than one day to see them all. The National Mall is a good place to start, with the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the newly constructed World War I Memorial all within a 2.5-mile (4.02 km) loop. You may get a chance to meet a veteran volunteering or visiting at the World War II Memorial and hear their story firsthand. Be sure to stop by each of the military branch memorials, scattered around Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is adjacent to the U.S. Capitol Building. This is the first national memorial dedicated solely to disabled veterans, paying tribute to the hidden and visible disabilities from all conflicts and all branches of service. James Pierce, Volunteer Coordinator for the National Mall and Memorial Parks is one of the caretakers of this powerful memorial. Like many wounded veterans, James has chosen to continue to serve his country as a public servant. Read his story.

Visit World War II Historical Sites

Across the U.S.

Visitors crowd inside the sleek white USS Arizona Memorial overlooking the ruins of the original USS

Pearl Harbor National Memorial (National Park Service)

Did you know that more than 16 million Americans served during World War II? Discover places that reflect both military and civilian contributions and honor those who served, such as World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Hawai'i, Alaska and California or the West Coast World War II Memorial at the Presidio of San Francisco. Within Mojave Trails National Monument in California, you'll find plenty of recreational opportunities and you can see some of the best preserved sites from the World War II-era Desert Training Center.

Reviewing her visit to Pearl Harbor, Debra R. commented, ‚ÄúStanding on a piece of history that the world will never forget was an incredible experience. Humbled by the courage and dedication to our country by our military men and women... We will be for grateful for those who sacrificed their lives, and we shall never forget them. The films, displays and pictures are outstanding. This is one place every American needs to visit.‚ÄĚ

Discover a Trail

Across the U.S.

American flag on a tall flagpole waves in the breeze before red sandstone formations

Capitol Reef National Park (Audrey Hill, Share the Experience)

Did you know there are almost 900 Congressionally designated national recreation trails, including eight National Scenic Trails and 16 National Historic Trails? Congress designated these trails because they play a crucial role in re-tracing American history or because they celebrate the natural beauty of the United States. Take a nature-based day hike or walk along a section of one of our numerous National Scenic Trails such as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the East or the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in the West. You might also consider the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail or Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail traversing Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC to travel back through history and uncover a sense of national pride.

Explore Your Home Front

Across the U.S.

Uniform rows of white marble headstones line a lush turf hill with the Golden Gate Bridge and San Fr

San Francisco National Cemetery (Maralee Hall, Share the Experience)

Veterans‚Äô memorials are often hiding in plain sight ‚Äď tucked in tiny town squares or commanding full city blocks. The National Park Service maintains several travel itineraries that you can use to take a virtual trip around the country or plan your travel to these historic sites. This Veterans Day, Travel World War II Sites in the San Francisco Bay Area or check out the 11 branches of the Veterans Affairs National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Delve deep¬†into¬†American¬†Military¬†history to¬†learn¬†about dedicated military men and women, past and present.

Discover America's Federal Lands Fee Free

Across the U.S.

An elderly male veteran wearing a t-shirt with a bald eagle and American flag design stands before t

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Rick Kramer, Share the Experience)

In honor of America’s veterans, entry is FREE at Bureau of Land Management lands, Fish and Wildlife Service refuges, U.S. Forest Service forests, National Park Service units, Bureau of Reclamation sites, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locations on Veterans Day. Enjoy your public lands and pay tribute to those who help to protect them.

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