America’s National Parks Could See Increase in Entrance Fees

by Jessica Montevago
America’s National Parks Could See Increase in Entrance Fees

Grand Canyon National Park. Photo: NPS

Visiting the Grand Canyon could soon cost as much as $70.

The National Park Service proposed an increase in admission fees Tuesday for 17 national parks in an effort to fund upgrades to its aging infrastructure.

During peak-season – the parks’ busiest time of the year, typically from May to September – entrance fees would cost $70 per vehicle and $50 per motorcycle, with people on foot or bikes paying $30. That’s almost double the current rate, where drivers pay $30 per vehicle at parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. At others, the price increase jumps from $25 to $75. The plan also includes a park-specific annual $75 pass for any of the 17 parks.

Annual $80 passes for federal lands and parks would not change, though entry fees for commercial operators would go up.

Under the proposal, higher fees would begin May 1, 2018, at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks; June 1, 2018, at Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks. Prices at Joshua Tree National Park would go up “as soon as practicable in 2018”

A majority of national parks will remain free to enter. Currently, 118 of 417 park sites charge an admission fee.

The price hike comes as National Parks sees an upswing in popularity. For the third year in a row, the parks set a record for recreational visits, welcoming nearly 331 million people in 2016.

The Park Service expects the new price structure to raise $70 million a year, adding the additional revenue is “badly needed” for improvements to aging roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services. It estimated an $11.3 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects, as of September 2016, including eroding trails, broken restrooms, crumbling roads and bridges, neglected historic buildings, and leaking sewer pipes.

The Park Service opened a 30-day public comment period until Nov. 23.

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