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‚Äôs great outdoors and historic places, which¬†represent much of what veterans serve to protect.¬†¬†
Beginning¬†Veterans Day 2020, all 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‚Äôs¬†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 ideas‚ÄĒthen find a way to remember and honor our veterans as you enjoy some of the best our country has to offer!
Unique places to honor U.S. military veterans across the country
National Archives, Washington D.C. (National Archives photo)
You won't want to miss visiting the¬†National Archives Museum¬†in Washington, D.C.¬†¬†Be sure to¬†make a tour reservation¬†to view the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Make sure to also¬†check out the Record of Rights exhibit for a glance at many other original documents seeking to fulfill the promise of the founding documents.¬†
Looking for ancestors who served in the military? Explore¬†National Archives genealogy resources!
Across the U.S.
World War II Memorial (Gwen Johnson, Share the Experience)
Did you know that more than 16 million Americans served during World War II? Discover places¬†that commemorate World War II reflecting both military and civilian contributions and¬†honoring¬†those who served.¬†Explore¬†World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (including Pearl Harbor)¬†in Hawai'i, Alaska and California or plan¬†a trip to the West Coast World War II Memorial at the Presidio of San Francisco.
You may get a chance to meet a veteran volunteering or visiting at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., and¬†hear their story firsthand. Delve deep¬†into¬†American¬†Military to¬†learn¬†about dedicated military men and women, past and present.
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.¬†Here in February 1942, General George S. Patton, Jr. was assigned¬†to advance desert tank warfare and¬†train U.S. soldiers for combat under harsh¬†desert conditions.
Across the U.S.
Angeles National Forest along the Pacific Crest Trail (Maria Ignacio, Share the Experience)
Enjoy a day hike or walk along a section of one of our numerous National Trails such as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the East. 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. You might ascend to a breathtaking view on¬†the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, or feel a sense of national pride on the Star-Spangled¬†Banner National Historic Trail.
#FindYourTrail favorites ‚Äúfrom sea to shining sea.‚ÄĚ
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico (Richard McIntyre, Share the Experience)
A place for quiet reflection and contemplation, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National¬†Monument in New Mexico is a geologic wonder with a long, rich cultural history. Managed by the Pueblo of Cochiti in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management¬†and Sandoval County,¬†this inspiring landscape provides solace for many. Within the monument is the Veterans‚Äô Memorial Scenic Overlook dedicated¬†to all American veterans. The overlook provides spectacular vistas of Camada and Peralta Canyons, the Dome Wilderness and Jemez Mountains. The Veterans Memorial Trail is a 1-mile (1.6 km)¬†loop trail, rated as very easy and is wheelchair accessible.
Across the U.S.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California (Hiroshi Kawashima, Share the Experience)
The World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area itinerary features a video, a list of sites and maps,¬†essays and more information to commemorate this West Coast city‚Äôs role in the war. Let this be your guide to discover which places you can visit in the Bay area.
Search for other national¬†register travel itineraries by state close to your home and discover more about our country's fascinating¬†history.
Pause and reflect at the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial adjacent to the U.S.¬†Capitol in Washington, D.C. 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.
Across the U.S.
Big Bend National Park, Texas (Craig Olson, Share the Experience)
In honor of America‚Äôs veterans, entry is FREE at¬†Bureau¬†of Land Management places, 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.