With five strategic commands and five military installations (including Fort Carson, the second-largest training area in the nation), Colorado’s military roots run deep. In fact, Colorado’s very first military post, the San Luis Valley’s Fort Garland, was commanded by the legendary Kit Carson in the mid-19th century. Today, Colorado’s Defense and Homeland Security sector employs over 70,000 people, including civilians, active-duty military, and veterans.

The Centennial State also supports veterans in a variety of ways, including offering a variety of outdoor-specific programs. Those with Colorado Disabled Veterans license plates on their vehicles are eligible for free entry to state parks and recreation areas year round. Both active duty and veterans are also entitled to free admission to these areas throughout the month of August, as well as on Veterans Day (November 11). Many veterans also qualify for lifetime Colorado fishing and small game hunting licenses.

Military members returning home to Colorado after a tour of duty also have the unique opportunity to join trips with groups specializing in veteran-friendly expeditions, including adaptive programs for those who may have required a limb amputation during their service, and trips for the whole family, too. Many of these same organizations hire veterans to run the programs as well.