Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at the 17 national parks. The peak season for each park would be defined as its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation, for most that is May through September when many families are on vacation. These increased peak season entrance fees would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks, which includes roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services.
The proposal applies to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah; Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree in California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming; Mount Rainier and Olympic in Washington; Shenandoah in Virginia; Acadia in Maine; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Denali in Alaska.
Visitors would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the fee of $30 for a weekly pass. At others, the hike is nearly triple, from $25 to $70. (Denali is structured differently because it’s largely a drive-through park. The vehicle fee doesn’t apply. The proposed increase per person is from $10 to $30.)
The National Park Service says it expects to raise $70 million a year with the proposal at a time when national parks repeatedly have been breaking visitation records and putting a strain on park resources. Nearly 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting. We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”
A 30-day public comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal will be open from October 24, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.