Fee increases set for national parks entry
Monday, May 21, 2018
First, the bad news: visitors to national parks will soon face increased entrance fees for the most popular parks in the country. The good news is that the price hikes are substantially less than what was proposed last fall by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Fee increases ranging from $3 to $10 will be implemented by June 1 for many parks and by 2019 or 2020 for other sites. The changes impact a total of 117 national parks — zeroing in the most heavily visited preserves — including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Zion and Acadia.
Per-vehicle fees at these prominent parks will be bumped up $5 from the current base of $25 to $30. Per-person and per-motorcycle fees also will see moderate increases.
The National Park Service (NPS) reeled in a plan from the Department of the Interior to more than double entry fees at the most popular parks following an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, concerned that such large increases would price many people out the nation’s parks.
Prices for the annual "America the Beautiful" pass and the Lifetime Senior Pass — both good for entry to national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and more than 2,000 federal recreation sites — will continue to be $80. Seniors, however, were clobbered last year when the price of the lifetime pass soared from $10 to the current $80.
Also unchanged is a break afforded current members of the military and dependents who can receive a free annual park pass by showing military ID at any federal recreation site that issues passes. Disabled vets qualify for a free lifetime pass.
Zinke contends that the NPS needed to increase entrance fees to its parks to help fund nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance and infrastructure costs — a backlog ranging from crumbling roadways, trails and campgrounds to aging sewer systems.
Another cutback affecting park goers is a reduction in the number of free days for national park admission. Entry fees are waived on only four days this year.
This is down from 10 free admission days in 2017 and 16 in 2016. The first two free days were Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 15 and April 21, the first day of National Park Week. Remaining free admission days are September 22, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day on November 11.
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