Recreation Passes & Permits

Gold Star Family Free Access Voucher

Gold Star Families Voucher imageCost

  • Free

Benefits

  • Honored nationwide at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.
  • Waives most day use fees (except at some concessionaire-run sites) and most entrance fees for all the federal agencies listed below under "Participating Sites" across the United States.

Validation

  • Before visiting a Forest Service operated site, Gold Star family members can download and print a voucher to show the ranger or place on the vehicle dashboard at unstaffed sites. By downloading and signing the voucher, Gold Star Family members are self-certifying that they meet the required criteria as identified in sections 3.2 and 3.3 of Department of Defense Instruction 1348.36. Vouchers may be certified and downloaded at the National Park Service Website.  
  • The Gold Star Family Free Access Voucher is valid for one calendar year, expiring December 31. 

Admittance

Free access is the holder of the Gold Star voucher as well as travelling companions who are occupants of a single, private non-commercial vehicle OR, voucher-holder and three persons (16 and older) where per person fees are charged. The voucher is non-transferrable and void if altered.  

Display

  • At staffed sites, upon arriving at the recreation site, Gold Star Family members must present the signed and checked voucher along with their photo ID.
  • At unstaffed sites, Leave the voucher face up on the vehicle dashboard.
  • At per-person sites, present voucher upon request.

Other Important Details

  • Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the US Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the US Armed Forces. Eligibility requirements are in section 3.2 of Department of Defense Instruction 1348.36.
  • If you have an Access Pass, you can simply use that pass for free access.
  • If you have recently purchased an Interagency Annual or Senior Pass, unfortunately no refunds are permitted.
  • The Free Voucher is valid by itself and there is no requirement to exchange for a military pass; however, Gold Star Family members can exchange a voucher for a military pass.  
  • It does not cover expanded amenity fees like camping, cabin rentals tours, special recreation permits etc., or organized groups or concession-operated facilities or activities. No Discounts on camping or other expanded amenity fees (camping, boat launching, guided tours).

Decals

Decals for open topped vehicles may be issued free with a Military Annual Pass. Decals offer a secure method to display ownership of the Military Annual Pass on motorcycles or open-topped vehicles at unstaffed sites. However, they are not a valid pass in themselves; the vehicle owner must also carry a Military Annual Pass. 

Issuance of a decal requires the visitor to exchange their Gold Star Family Free Access Voucher for a military annual pass.  The visitor then must show their vehicle registration with the military annual pass and valid photo ID to acquire a decal. Vehicle registration for an open topped vehicle must match the name(s) of the pass holder(s) and the photo identification.

How to get this pass

Before visiting a Forest Service operated site, Gold Star family members can download and print a voucher to show the ranger or place on the vehicle dashboard at unstaffed sites. By downloading and signing the voucher, Gold Star Family members are self-certifying that they meet the required criteria as identified in sections 3.2 and 3.3 of Department of Defense Instruction 1348.36.  Vouchers may be certified and downloaded at the National Park Service Website.

Participating Sites

Honored nationwide at all agency sites charging entrance or day use (standard amenity) fees.

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Forest Service (FS) 
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR)
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS)