Thanking America’s Armed Forces: Active Duty U.S. Military Offered Free Entrance to All National Parks

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Date: May 16, 2012
Contact: Jennie Albrinck, 605-433-5240

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK and MINUTEMAN MISSILE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE, S.D. -To show our appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. Military, on May 19 - Armed Forces Day - the National Park Service will begin issuing an annual pass offering free entrance to all 397 national parks for active duty military members and their dependents.

"We honor the sacrifices our warriors and their families have made to this country. I know a visit to the Badlands can bring peace and happiness when we need it the most," said Badlands National Park Superintendent Eric Brunnemann.

Visitors are encouraged to attend one of the daily ranger programs offered May 29 through September 10. Fossils Talks and Junior Ranger Programs are especially popular for families with children. The Night Sky Program is a must-see and is held Friday through Monday after the 9 pm Evening Ranger Program in the Cedar Pass Campground. For more information on planning a visit, see

Active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents can pick up their pass at any Badlands National Park entrance booth. They must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. More information is available at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site does not charge an entrance fee, so passes are not required but can be picked up at Badlands.

"Minuteman Missile National Historic Site tells a contemporary military story that is directly connected to our airmen at neighboring Ellsworth Air Force Base," stated Superintendent Ruben Andrade.

Minuteman Missile will offer tours of its Delta-1 Launch Control Center daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Missile silo Delta-9 (I-90, Exit 116) is also open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis by coming to the Visitor Center, located in Cactus Flat, off I-90 at Exit 13, adjacent to the Conoco gas station.

This military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass also permits free entrance to sites managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The pass is also available at these locations.

"Through the years, military members, especially those far from home in times of conflict, have found inspiration in America's patriotic icons and majestic landscapes, places like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon that are cared for by the National Park Service and symbolize the nation that their sacrifices protect," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "This new pass is a way to thank military members and their families for their service and their sacrifices."

National parks and the military have strong ties going back to the establishment of Yellowstone as the world's first national park in 1872. The U.S. Cavalry watched over America's national parks and did double duty, serving as the first park rangers until the National Park Service was created 44 years later. During World War II, many parks were set aside for the training and care of military personnel. Today, dozens of national parks commemorate military battles and achievements.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America 's 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750


(605) 433-5361

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