Parks Department Announces Changes to Distinguished Veteran Pass

Ready for Red Rock? Cruising to Crystal Cove? Eager for Emerald Bay? Hankering for Humboldt Lagoons? If you’re an honorably discharged war veteran with a 50% or greater service-connected disability rating, or a former POW or Medal of Honor recipient, there’s a new way for you to visit each of California’s 118 state parks.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Distinguished Veteran Pass recently underwent modernization as part of its transition to California’s new reservation system: ReserveCalifornia. It has a credit card design and some slightly revised policies.

The pass entitles the holder to the use of all basic facilities, including day use, camping and boating, in California state parks at no charge.

Distinguished Veterans Park Pass

The pass is not valid for group use or sites, special events, commercial use, additional/extra vehicle fees, or for supplemental fees, and it cannot be used in conjunction with any other pass and/or discount.

Visit our CalVet Veterans Services Division webpage for more information about how to apply for a Distinguished Veteran Pass. Current pass holders are asked to visit one of 47 designated state park locations to work with department staff to create a new online profile and exchange their current pass for the new credit card design pass.

Individuals may use their current pass for walk-up (first-come, first-serve) camping and day use through February 28, 2018. Old passes will not be valid after these dates. Admittance and use are subject to available space.  For complete Distinguished Veteran Pass Program terms and conditions, click here.

NOTE: Current veteran or disabled pass holders will need new passes for camping reservations after August 1. 


  1. Gabriel · · Reply

    Are there any benefits for honorably discharged (non-combat) veterans and no service related disabilities?


    1. June Iljana · · Reply

      There are no other state park discounts that we are aware of, however there are many other benefits you may not be receiving. I encourage you to take a look at our Veteran Resource Book which is posted at or you can email us at and request a hard copy.


  2. David Holland · · Reply

    Where are the 47 designated state parks where I can get help to replace my old pass?


    1. Steven Wilson · · Reply

      Hi David. You can visit this link to find all of the pass exchange locations:


  3. When I exchanged my pass I was told there were no other changes to the program. But when I used Reserve California, I was charged a $7.99 reservation fee. I was never charged a fee to make reservations through Reserve America. Is this new fee a new charge/change to this program???


    1. Cathy Kenny · · Reply

      Apologies for the delayed reply… I’m not sure why you were charged a fee. The Distinguished Veteran Pass entitles the holder to the use of all basic facilities (including day use, camping and boating) in California State Parks at no charge. I would try contacting the Park Pass Sales Office directly at (800) 777-0369 ext. 2 or (916) 653-8280 or via email at


  4. For James A Spencer · · Reply

    We sent our paperwork in on August 16, 2017. So far we have received nothing. We have tried calling and the message is “Can’t take a message” Some very important information about us was sent to you. I would like to know when we will receive our pass. Thank you


    1. Cathy Kenny · · Reply

      Mr. Spencer. Did you send information to the State Department of Parks and Recreation? They do say to allow 8 to 10 weeks for processing. Here is the contact information I have, if you would like to follow up on the status of your pass. For questions or more information, please contact the Park Pass Sales Office at (800) 777-0369 ext. 2 or (916) 653-8280 or via email at


  5. Michael R Garcia · · Reply

    Just received my updated Distinguished Veterans pass a few days ago. When I used it on the Reserve California website, I was being asked to pay a $7.99 reservation fee. I was never charged a fee to make reservations through the old system, Reserve America. I see in your feed that this has occurred to another veteran back in October 2017. Is this an error that can be fixed?


  6. Also seeing a $7.99 fee on Reserve California. Never happened at Reserve America. This may be on only certain parks, I’ll try to confirm that. Otherwise, anyone get this refunded or canceled?


  7. Patrick Prather · · Reply

    Hi, I am looking for information about the expiration date on the Distinguished Veteran pass. How do I renew?


    1. Hi, Patrick, this is from the State Parks’ page:


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