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Free admission to state parks, lands, campgrounds & historic sites for New York veterans, Gold Star Families


Wed, Mar 27th 2024 04:25 pm

Hochul signed legislation to expand State Parks’ Lifetime Liberty Pass program, offer free entry for NYS veterans and Gold Star Families beginning April 1

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that, beginning Monday, April 1, New York state veterans and Gold Star Families will have free access to parks, campgrounds, day use areas, historic sites and recreation areas through the expansion of the Lifetime Liberty Pass program. Hochul signed a package of legislation in November to support veterans and their families, which included this initiative.

“Our veterans have made endless sacrifices, and New York is always looking for ways we can say ‘Thank you’ for keeping our country safe,” Hochul said. “Nature heals and, with the expansion of our Lifetime Liberty Pass program, we’re ensuring veterans and their families can easily visit our world-class destinations here in New York.”

Under the legislation, the Lifetime Liberty Pass program will now be extended to include all Veterans and certain Gold Star Family members who are residents of New York. A disability rating is no longer required.

The benefits include:

√ Free vehicle entry to State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation-operated campgrounds and day use areas, as well as state boat launch sites, historic sites, arboretums and park preserves.

√ Free greens fees at State Park-operated golf courses.

√ Free swimming pool entrance at pools operated by State Parks.

√ Discounted campsite and cabin rentals at State Parks- and DEC-operated campgrounds. The discount will be applied at the time of campground check-in.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, "We are incredibly grateful to our veterans for their dedication and service and are excited to provide veteran communities more opportunities to better connect with state parks, historic sites and recreation areas, and facilitate a lifelong love of the outdoors.”

Veterans can access these benefits by presenting a Department of Motor Vehicles photo document (ID) with veteran status designation to employees at all staffed facilities. Veterans who do not have this designation on an ID can visit the NYS DMV website for more information or apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass to ensure seamless entry.

Gold Star Parents, Spouses or Children can apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass to ensure entry at all park locations. The application process will open April 1.

New York State Sen. James Skoufis said, “The unwavering commitment of our veterans is a testament to their enduring love for country. In providing no-cost access to our state parks and recreational areas, we honor not only their service but their right to cherish precious times with loved ones amidst the very landscapes they valiantly defended.”

Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre said, "To honor our veterans and Gold Star Families, we've opened the gates of New York state's natural splendors to them, at no charge. This act of gratitude, signed into law by Gov. Hochul, symbolizes a heartfelt thank-you from the state of New York. We acknowledge the immeasurable sacrifices of our veterans and military families and offer them the tranquility and beauty of our parks as places of reflection and connection.”

The Lifetime Liberty Pass is not valid for amenities, including but not limited to, some services, tours, rental equipment or locations operated by concessionaires or partners. Learn more about the program and how to apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass here.

State Parks oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and boat launches, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app or call 518-474-0456. Join in celebrating the centennial throughout 2024, and connect on Facebook, Instagram,  X (formerly Twitter) and the OPRHP blog.

NYS DEC manages 5 million acres of public lands, including 3 million acres in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve, 55 campgrounds and day-use areas, more than 5,000 miles of formal trails and hundreds of trailheads, boat launches and fishing piers. Plan an outdoor adventure and connect on Facebook, X, Flickr and Instagram.

The New York State Department of Veterans' Services, which has served as the state's advocacy agency for veterans, service members and military families since 1945, maintains an agencywide commitment of serving all veterans, service members, and military families in a wide range of practice areas, including claims and appeals for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, discharge upgrade appeals to the U.S. Department of Defense, and claims for New York state benefits. Veterans, service members and military families are encouraged to contact the department at 888-838-7697 or its website to meet – in person or virtually – with an accredited veterans benefits adviser to address their needs and gain the full measure of benefits that they have earned. Follow DVS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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