How to Get a Free National Parks Pass & The Must-Visit Parks Near Submarine Duty Stations

One of my favorite things about moving around with the Navy is getting to explore different places. Whenever we move somewhere new, we love to make a bucket list of places to explore in our city and nearby. We especially love to venture out and explore the national parks for our vacations.

Have you explored any national parks near your duty station? Here’s just a few that come to mind:  

Did yo know that military members, veterans, and their dependents qualify for a free “America The Beautiful” pass? You can pick yours up at any park visitor center.

WHAT IS IT: The pass grants you free access to more than 2,000 national parks and federal recreation sites.

WHO QUALIFIES: Current US military members and their dependents (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, Reserve and National Guard), US military veterans and Gold Star Family members.

HOW TO GET IT: Find a location to purchase this pass at a federal recreation site OR order the free pass online at

National Parks can also be a fun addition to a PCS road trip if you have time! My family is currently stationed in Colorado, and we have been making great use of our America The Beautiful pass! Last year, we went to Arches National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. This year, we went to Yellowstone National Park.

For our Yellowstone trip, we loaded up the car and took my parents, our one year old, and our three year old. We were all in one car, so our America the Beautiful pass got all of us in. It was such a perfect trip for all of us because so many of the things there are accessible. We didn’t have to do big hikes to see the major things, like Old Faithful. I loved seeing my kids fall in love with the beauty of the national parks. They were mesmerized by the geysers. My older daughter is still talking about Yellowstone over a month later and loves to pretend she’s there. It’s adorable.

We have a goal of using our America the Beautiful pass in as many places as we can! What national parks have you been to? Which are your favorites?

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