This November 11, all 408 National Park sites in the U.S. will waive entry fees in honor of Veterans Day.
The free entry event is intended not only to attract visitors outside the summer season, but as a salute to America’s armed forces, considering national parks have several connections to the military.
Other than also being a governmental institution, national parks contain battlefields and other historic sites commemorating the legacy of American veterans.
These protected areas, known as “America’s Best Idea,” are also part of the national identity, which many veterans fought and died to help preserve.
Additionally, some of the first park rangers were soldiers, and the wide-brimmed ranger hats that many national park staff wear to this day are a nod to the Cavalry units that protected these areas until the official creation of the National Park Service.
Veterans still play a part in America’s national parks. More than 17 percent of National Park Service employees today are veterans. Many national parks also provide free admission or discounts to active-duty military members and their dependents year-round.
Veterans Day is one of nine days this year where the National Park Service has offered free entry, the others being: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19), Presidents Day weekend (Feb. 14-16), Opening weekend of National Park Week (April 18-19), National Park Service’s birthday (Aug. 25) and National Public Lands Day (Sep. 26).
With their spectacular views, close relationship to the military, and complimentary admission, there’s hardly a better place than a national park to pay tribute to the nation’s veterans this Wednesday.
For the closest National Park to you, visit the NPS’s Find a Park page.