Did you or someone you love serve in the military? Are you wondering if you’re allowed to utilize military campgrounds? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
As a veteran or active service member, it can be confusing to understand exactly what benefits you qualify for, and many times you’ll even find conflicting information.
In this article, we aim to set the record straight by taking a closer look into what military campgrounds are and who’s allowed to stay there. Let’s begin.
What Are US Military Campgrounds?
Military campgrounds are part of the U.S. military’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Benefits. MWR benefits were created solely to provide soldiers and their families programs and services to boost morale and resiliency. These include services such as youth centers and recreation clubs.
Additionally, there are various military discounts, spouse employment programs, and financial counseling. Of course, they have large systems of campgrounds and recreation areas too. These campgrounds are usually steeply discounted and well-kept which appeal to traveling military families. Some even have cabin rentals.
Where Are Military Campgrounds Located?
Military campgrounds are located at various military bases all across the U.S. In fact, there are 278 military campgrounds in total. While not every state has one, they make it easier to find a place to stay when traveling across the country.
Each base tends to have its own rules regarding check-ins, fees, and even who can stay. Sometimes, two campgrounds located on the same base will have different rules. Because of this, it’s important to call ahead to find out all their requirements.
Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 10 Best Military Campgrounds in Florida
Who Can Camp at Military Bases?
Unfortunately, being a veteran with an honorable discharge does not automatically make you eligible to stay at military campgrounds. In fact, many military bases have their own specific rules. However, each one follows this general guideline:
First, to stay at a campground you must be a military retiree, a National Guard member, a reservist, or their dependent. Additionally, active duty service members, their spouses or minor dependents, and service-connected disabled veterans are welcome. This includes recipients of the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart-awarded veterans.
You can also stay at the campgrounds if you’re a surviving family member of a service member killed in action. Moreover, you can ask to stay as well if you’re a retired Defense Department civilian worker or sponsored by an eligible member.
Like we said before, some campgrounds are more lenient than others. The final decision is usually made by the commander of that particular base.
Can Service Connected Veterans Use Military Campgrounds?
Yes, veterans with service-connected disabilities are qualified to use the campgrounds. According to militarycampgrounds.us, you must be an honorably discharged veteran with a 100% service-connected disability.
Pro Tip: Explore the land of the free and the home of the brave with these tips on How to RV Across America: The Ultimate American Dream.
Can Canadian Military Use U.S. Military Campgrounds?
This is a great question. Firstly, U.S. military service members can use Canada’s military campgrounds. However, for a Canadian to stay at a U.S. military campground there are further rules.
The answer to this eligibility question lies within a statement from militarycampgrounds.us. Individuals allowed to stay must be “military personnel of foreign nations and their family members when on orders from the U.S. Armed Forces or in overseas areas when the major command commander grants privileges in the best interest of the United States.”
In short, U.S. allies, such as Canadian Service members, can use the campgrounds when the commander grants permission.
Is Military Camping Free?
Unfortunately, military campgrounds are not free. Still, they do offer steep discounts and high-quality facilities. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere between $10 to $60 per night. Additionally, some campgrounds even allow you to pay a modest annual permit to access the campground.
Do Military Get Discounts for Camping at National Parks?
Yes! The America the Beautiful Military Pass allows U.S. military members and their dependents to access many national parks. Additionally, military veterans and Gold Star Family members also have access to the America the Beautiful Pass.
Unlike the original pass, the military pass is completely free. It covers entrance fees to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites. It also covers standard amenity fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation sites, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites.
Pro Tip: Learn more about What Is an Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Campground before heading out on your next adventure.
Are Military Campgrounds Worth It?
In short, if you fall within the eligibility guidelines for military campgrounds, we think they are totally and completely worth it. For one, there are countless military campgrounds across the country. These campgrounds are usually in fantastic locations.
Moreover, you’ll probably pay much less to stay at those locations and enjoy more amenities. You’ll also get something that’s completely priceless: comradery with fellow service members and the peace and tranquility that camping brings.
Thank you for your service, and enjoy your camping trip!
Have you ever been to a military campground? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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