Are you Active Duty Military, Retired Military or Disabled Military Veteran who’s looking for cheap or free places to camp? We’ve found a plethora of affordable camping for Military Servicemembers and Veterans as well as military camping discounts for our Nation’s Heroes.
As Military Veterans ourselves, we’ll present some cool options of affordable camping for military families on a budget.
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Affordable Camping for Military, Retirees & Veterans
Including Disabled Veterans, Gold Star Families & Other Qualified Veterans
Military FamCamps & Military Base Campgrounds
If you’re a military Servicemember or Veteran who enjoys camping or RVing, you most likely already know what a FamCamp is.
FamCamp is short for family campground. Originally coined by the Air Force, general military terminology refers to all military campgrounds on any military base or post as a FamCamp.
But, for intents and purposes, the Army and Air Force (Outdoor Recreation) has FamCamps. And the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) refers to them as military campgrounds.
So military campgrounds and FamCamps are actually one in the same. So, when I refer to FamCamps, I’m also including all military campgrounds from other branches of service.
Whichever you call them, FamCamps and military campgrounds are very popular because they are affordable and come with awesome perks.
They also have stellar security. And they’re usually located on military bases with other base amenities such as military medical treatment facilities, commissary and PX/BX, Class 6, gym, pool, movie theater, etc.
FamCamps typically provide primitive tent campsites and RV sites with electric, water and sewer utilities, bathhouse, and laundry room.
Campsite fees range anywhere from $20 per night upwards to even over $75 per night depending on location and amenities.
Some FamCamps may have onsite tent camping sites as well. Or, they may be located in a separate area closer to archery ranges or fishing holes. But, they usually have a more primitive bathhouse with toilet, sink and shower.
Who qualifies to use military campgrounds and FamCamps isn’t across the board. Criteria, though set by the DOD, can vary from one military post or base to another.
But, in general, anyone who has a valid military ID card (Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, Military Retirees) can stay at FamCamps.
Also, 100% Disabled Veterans, surviving Gold Star Family Members and even Veterans with service-connected medical % rating may use them as well.
Who Can Camp at Military FamCamps
- Active Duty Military and their Dependents
- Military Retirees and their Dependents
- Medal of Honor Recipients
- Purple Heart Recipients
- Former Prisoners of War
- Veterans with service-connected disabilities (must have VA documented disability rating)
- Authorized family caregivers of eligible veterans enrolled in the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program
- Reserves and National Guard members
- Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service or a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the meets the requirements for being considered a veteran AND also meets the above criteria are eligible for FamCamp or military campground access.
To verify accessibility, it’s best to call the military post Outdoor Recreation or military base MWR office for details and qualification.
Military Camping & Outdoor Rentals
While we’re on the same page of affordable military camping, did you know that military MWR and Outdoor Recreation programs also offer affordable outdoor and camping equipment and even camper rentals?
Active Military, Military Retirees and qualified Veterans can rent kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, cots, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, camp cookware and other camping equipment.
Some Outdoor Rec and MWR facilities even rent out cabins and cottages, campers and boats too!
So, you don’t have to go out and buy camping gear or a kayak that you’ll only use occasionally.
Tents for Troops
Tents for Troops, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, is for Active Duty military personnel to camp for FREE after joining the program.
It’s participating campground and RV park owners, RV dealers’ and RV manufacturers’ as well as RV industry associations’ and suppliers’ way of saying ‘thank you for your service’.
To show their appreciation for your patriotic duty and sacrifice, these RV parks and campgrounds all across the United States offer a complimentary two night minimum campsite to active military and their families.
Some of those participating parks and campgrounds may offer RV units or park models for military guests.
All currently-serving military members need to do is find participating parks through the Tents for Troops website.
Once you find campgrounds or RV parks you’d like to stay at, you’ll need to make a reservation by calling the RV park or campground directly. Upon arrival, you’ll also need to present your Active Duty military I.D. at the time of check in.
But if you don’t have an RV but still want to experience RV camping, Tents for Troops also has an RV Loaner Program.
These loaner RV trailers will will be fully set up on an RV Site at a participating campground for one week free of charge other than a one time deposit.
If you return the RV in clean presentation, a portion of your deposit will be returned.
Be aware, the Tents for Troops program is for Active Duty Servicemembers only. It is not available for Military Retirees or Veterans, Disabled Veterans or Gold Star Families.
National Park Pass for Military
There are several ways Active Duty U.S. Military Servicemembers, Military Retirees and Veterans can enjoy free entry into our National Parks. As well, some National Park passes offer reduced campsite fees at federal camping facilities.
National Park Military Annual Pass
The National Park’s Military Annual Park Pass is FREE to currently serving US military members and dependents of deployed military in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines Navy, and Space Force as well as most members of the currently serving Reserves and National Guard.
To apply for your pass, you will need a current military ID (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173).
National Park Military Lifetime Pass
The National Park Military Lifetime Pass is for U.S. military veterans with a valid, veteran ID. The Military Lifetime Pass is also extended to Gold Star Families with a valid Gold Star Family Voucher.
However, there’s one caveat. This particular National Pass is only for free entry into the park. It does not cover camping fees, transportation, special recreation permits, reservation fees or special tours.
However, there are other ways to getting discounted camping at National Parks or Federal campgrounds if you qualify. Keep reading.
National Park Access Pass
If you’re a U.S. Military Veteran with a documented letter from the VA stating a permanent disability, you can apply for a free, lifetime National Park Access Pass.
This is one of the two National Park passes that offer discounted camping fees (up to 50% off!).
This Access Pass is available to any U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. And, qualifiers do not have to 100% disabled to acquire the Access Pass. But, you will have to show proper documentation showing your disability (VA letter).
While the Access Pass is free, you may have to pay for a small administration fee to obtain an Access Pass through the USGS for processing your application.
Applicants must provide documentation proof of residency and documentation of permanent disability.
For more information on the Access Pass, visit the USGS website.
National Park Senior Pass
The other National Park pass that offers discounted camping fees at federally owned and managed campgrounds is the National Park Senior Pass.
The National Park America the Beautiful Interagency Lifetime Senior Pass is for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over; regardless of Military Veteran status. There is a one-time charge is $80 for the pass that permits free entrance for life of the pass holder.
The National Park’s America the Beautiful Interagency Annual Senior Pass is for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over; regardless of Military Veteran status. Its valid for one full year from month of purchase (through last day of that month).
The cost of obtaining an Annual Senior Pass through the mail is thirty $30. Applicants must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship.
The Annual Senior Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six Federal agencies.
- National Park Service
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Regarding Senior Pass benefits as stated on the USGS.gov Site pasted for accuracy:
In general, discounts for the Senior Lifetime, Senior Annual and Interagency Access Pass are honored as follows:
Campsites with Utility Hookups: If utility fees are charged separately, there is no discount. The discount may apply if the utility fee is combined with the campsite fee.
Group Campsites and Facilities: (including, but not limited to, group facilities, picnic areas or pavilions): There is no discount for group campsites and other group facilities that charge a flat fee. If the group campsite has a per person fee rate, only the pass owner receives a discount; others using the site pay the full fee.
National Park Annual Pass
The National Park America the Beautiful Interagency Annual Pass is for those who don’t qualify for any of the previously mentioned National Park Passes.
While the Annual Pass allows free entry into any of our National Parks, it does not extend discounts on camping fees, fishing or hunting.
✰✰ RELATED ✰✰ Which National Park Pass Should You Get?
There are several State Parks in the U.S. that offer affordable camping for Military Servicemembers, Military Retirees and Disabled Veterans by showing your military ID or VA issued card.
You can apply online or in person at participating State Parks to get your State Park pass.
Also, some States may offer free access for day-use facilities while others may offer a discount on overnight camping for Military Servicemembers, Military Retirees or Veterans and their immediate families.
However, each state is different. So, we highly recommend researching each state you may be visiting to see what benefits or discounts they honor.
Lastly, while all State Parks operate under their own set of regulations, some may require you to be a resident of said state to qualify. Other states may just require proof of Military or Veteran status.
✰✰ RELATED ✰✰ See where we got our free Texas State Park Pass for Disabled Veterans
Other Military Discounts on Camping
Throughout our RV travel, we’ve found that many privately owned campgrounds and RV parks offer a military discount for card-carrying Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard and/or Retired Military.
Some may extend the discount to Military Veteran’s with proof of military service and/or honorable discharge. Approved documentation may be your DD214, VA-issued medical card or your current driver’s license showing Veteran status.
All you have to do is ask when making a reservation and/or at time of check-in.
And many RV and travel clubs may offer a membership discount.
If you don’t have a membership, kindly ask the campground if they offer military discounts. Many offer a 10-15% military discount if you can show proof of your service.
Military Camping Discount Programs for camping, RV parks, cottages, cabins and other vacation rentals:
- Sun RV Resorts – Active Duty Military and Veterans in the United States and Canadian armed forces – Buy 2 nights, get 1 FREE!
- Jellystone Park Camp Resorts – Various discounts offered. Call your Jellystone Park to learn about their Hero’s Weekends.
- Kampgrounds of America (KOA) – Various KOAs offer military discounts on camping at individual establishments. Call to make a reservation.
Affordable Military Camping Resources:
Ultimate US Military FamCamps (Google)
MilitaryOneSource – PDF list of Joint Services Campgrounds and Facilities in each state.
MOAA – Planning a Summer Camping Trip? Check Out These Military Discounts Across the U.S.
My Military Benefits – Free Camping for Service Members and Their Families.
US Veteran Camper put together a comprehensive list of States’ park passes, discounts and other benefits available to Active Duty, Veterans and/or Disabled Veterans in State-operated parks.
University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies put together a list of Access Pass Programs in State Park information, discounted admissions, fees or passes for persons with disabilities.
Be aware that information on any of the above listed is subject to change without notice or may be outdated. I highly recommend contacting each State Park Administration for verification of offers and discounts.
Final thoughts on military discounts and affordable camping for Military Servicemembers and Veterans
We hope this information is helpful on how current military Servicemembers, Military Retirees and Veterans can camp affordably. Our U.S. military has definitely earned these worthwhile discounts to make it easier to spend quality time with family and friends outdoors.
So, why not do it camping or RVing! There may be other ways out there to save money while camping. We’d love to hear about them in our comments.
And finally, to all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, THANK YOU for your service from Always On Liberty!
Check out our video on our stay at Holloman Air Force Base FamCamp near White Sands New Mexico:
Plan Your Trip!
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FamCamps and Military Campgrounds we’ve stayed at
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