In honor of Veterans Day, Colorado celebrates its rich history and dedication to those who served in the U.S. military. On Saturday, November 11, all National Park Service sites across the state will offer free entrance to everyone.

Colorado has over a dozen parks and historic sites, each with its own unique ties to the U.S. military. Visiting these parks and engaging with their historical aspects, or attending events that focus on their military ties, can provide a direct and poignant link to Colorado’s military past and the contribution of veterans.

Here are some ways that photographs can take advantage of the free day to engage with Colorado’s national parks and monuments, while honoring the service of U.S. military veterans:

Capture Living History: Many sites host living history events on Veterans Day, reenacting military life. Photograph reenacts in period uniforms, showcasing the historical accuracy and vibrancy of events at places like Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, which illustrates the 19th-century military presence in Colorado.

Explore Military Structures: Photograph the remnants of military infrastructures at sites like Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which was once part of the Fort Carson Army base. Capture bunkers, training areas, or defensive positions that offer insights into the area’s military significance.

Focus on Battlefields: Visit sites like Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, significant for understanding the tragic events of the American Indians Wars. Photograph the landscapes and interpretive signage to document the site’s historical context.

Document War Memorials: Sites like the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument have memorials honoring veterans or specific military events. Photograph these monuments, capturing their design and the messages they convey about sacrifice and service.

Capture Military Heritage Trails: Trails like those at Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center offer the opportunity to photograph the path trodden by military figures in the past. Document the landscape, interpretive signs, and any remaining artifacts along these paths.

Photograph Artifacts: At various parks, artifacts related to military history are on display. Capture these artifacts in details, such as weaponry, uniforms, or personal items, at places like Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site.

Spotlight Commemorative Monuments: Capture the grandeur of monuments like the Colorado Freedom Memorial and the historical context that they represent.

Portray Cultural Diversity: Sites like Mesa Verde National Park, though not primarily military-focused, were inhabited by Native American communities. Photographers can honor veterans by documenting the enduring legacies of civilizations, just as veterans leave an indelible mark on the nation’s history.

These approaches offer photographers a diverse range of subject matter, providing opportunities to document the diverse legacy and impact of veterans and military history in Colorado’s national parks and monuments.

In addition to free admission on Veterans Day, military veterans and Gold Star Family members residing in Colorado have the opportunity to obtain a free, lifetime entrance pass to all of the country’s national parks. Current military members and their dependents are eligible for a free annual pass, allowing them to explore and connect with historical and cultural landmarks year-round.

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