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5 Tips to Make the Most Out of Our FREE Blue Star Parks Program

July 15, 2019

Blue Star Parks.

By now, you’ve probably heard us drop those three words across social media, blog posts, emails; you name it. Though are you wondering how in the world your milfam can make the most out of this free program not only during the summer, but year-round? 

Well, we’re revealing five tips to help you do exactly that. Check them out!

1. Grab Your FREE Annual America the Beautiful Park Pass

Are you in need of a change of scenery? How about trekking through national treasures? You’re in luck. Our country’s beautiful and historic parks provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy some outdoor activities—from hiking to birdwatching, and so much more!

Many parks, however, require a vehicle entrance fee or standard amenity fees. But did you know that, as a military family, you can waive these costs with an annual America the Beautiful pass

Yep, it’s true! It’s the U.S. National Park Service’s way of saying thank you to our country’s current military members and their families in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as Reserve and National Guard.

Haven’t grabbed a pass of your own just yet? Doing so is easy. Just visit a federal recreation site near your current duty station (or as you’re passing through on your PCS journey or road trip). Then, show your Common Access Card (CAC) or military ID, and you’ll be all set!

2. Download the ParkPassport App

As soon as you get your free annual pass, be sure to download the ParkPassport app for iPhone and Android. It was created as part of our collaboration with National Park Trust, and the support of the National Park Service, making it easier (and more fun) to explore new parks, discover a range of outdoor activities, and connect with friends and family near or far who share a love of the great outdoors. 

ParkPassport app as seen on a phone.

ParkPassport App

Follow these quick and easy steps to get started:

  1. Download the app here for Apple devices or here for Android devices.
  2. Create an account and register your family.
  3. Start logging your parks visited and outdoor activities.
  4. Receive a Buddy Bison to accompany you on your travels.*
  5. Collect badges for your virtual passport.
  6. Connect with friends to compare adventures!
  7. Share your outdoor adventures to social media using the hashtag #BlueStarParks.

*First 20,000 users to download the app will receive a free Buddy Bison.

3. Locate a Park Near You

Next up is mapping out a must-visit list of parks as a family! Whether you’re driving cross-country or ready to make the most of your current duty station, use the ParkPassport app or this interactive map to locate a Blue Star Park near you. 

Though it shouldn’t be difficult to do because there are more than 2,000 national parks and federal recreation sites at your fingertips!

Blue Star Parks Blue Star Summer photo family walking on a trail

BSF family exploring a Blue Star Park!

Here are some lesser-known favorites to get you started: Channel Islands National Park in California, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

4. Get Ready for a Scavenger Hunt

Keep your milkids engaged on your next nature-filled adventure—no matter the parks you choose to visit—with Blue Star Families’ ready-made Nature Scavenger Hunt!

They’ll be challenged to be observant and creative as they identify things to cross off the list. Oh, and don’t forget to capture some photos so you can share with friends, family, and the Blue Star Families’ community using the hashtag #BlueStarParks.

5. Become a Member of Blue Star Families Today

Last but not least, if you haven’t done so already, join Blue Star Families today to access free resources and stay in-the-know on our programs and partnerships (like Blue Star Parks!) available to our nation’s military families around the world.

Now, you know the tips to make the most of our nation’s outdoor treasures. So, what will your military family discover with Blue Star Parks?