Governor Hochul Signed Legislation to Expand State Parks’ Lifetime Liberty Pass Program and Offer Free Entry for New York State Veterans and Gold Star Families Beginning on April 1, 2024.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that beginning on Monday, April 1, 2024, New York State veterans and Gold Star Families will have free access to New York State parks, campgrounds, day use areas, historic sites, and recreation areas through the expansion of the Lifetime Liberty Pass Program. Governor Hochul signed a package of legislation in November 2023 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,” Governor 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 signed by Governor Hochul, 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 State. A disability rating is no longer required. The benefits include:


  • Free vehicle entry to State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)-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 NY State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) photo document (ID) with Veteran status designation to employees at all staffed facilities. Veterans who do not have this designation on your ID can visit the NYS DMV website for more information or apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass to ensure seamless entry.


New York State Gold Star Parents, Spouses or Children should apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass to ensure entry at all park locations. The application process for the Lifetime Liberty Pass will open on April 1, 2024.


State Senator 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. I thank Governor Hochul for signing our legislation into law which extends this privilege to more than half a million veterans and Gold Star families.”


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 Governor 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. As Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I was proud to introduce this legislation and am pleased to see it become a reality. The State Assembly remains committed to ensuring our heroes and their families know their valor and losses are recognized and remembered.”


New York State Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner Viviana DeCohen said, “I am deeply moved by Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement granting free access to our state’s parks and historic sites for our Veterans and Gold Star Families. This expansion of the Lifetime Liberty Pass Program not only honors the selfless service of our Veterans but also recognizes the enduring sacrifice of Gold Star Families. It reflects our state’s profound gratitude and unwavering commitment to those who have given so much for our nation. This initiative ensures that our heroes and their families find solace and tranquility in the natural beauty of our parks, a well-deserved respite for their immense sacrifices.”


Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is thankful to the brave individuals who served to protect our freedoms and to the many families that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Governor Hochul and legislative leaders expanded this pass to veterans and Gold Star Families and DEC is proud to participate in increasing access to the many benefits of New York State lands, parks, historic sites, and other top-notch outdoor recreation facilities as a tribute to their commitment.”


DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “We are proud to offer the veteran status designation on licenses and IDs, and we are so glad that these documents can be used by those who served our country to enjoy New York’s many wonderful parks and historic sites.”


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.


New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app or call 518.474.0456. Join us in celebrating our Centennial throughout 2024, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram,  (formerly Twitter), and the OPRHP Blog.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation manages five million acres of public lands, including three 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 your next outdoor adventure and connect with us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Flickr and Instagram.  


About the Department of Veterans’ Services  

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 United States Department of Veterans Affairs, discharge upgrade appeals to the United States 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 Advisor to address their needs and gain the full measure of benefits that they have earned. Follow DVS on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.  


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