The price of entry to our national wonders would increase dramatically under a proposal from the cash-strapped NPS.
Are you prepared for entrance fees to more than double for over a dozen of the most heavily-visited national parks in America? Would you be able to afford $70 per car on top of other travel costs to go see a natural wonder?
This may not seem like much to someone making a good living, but many Americans are finding it hard enough to make ends meet. Currently, the $25-30 fees charged at the crown jewels of the National Park Service are prohibitive to families living paycheck-to-paycheck, and a stretch for those who have limited discretionary income. $70 coming on top of gas, food, and other travel costs will put these parks out of reach to the people who need them most.
National parks are critically important. A visit to one can change someone's life. They contain some of our most spectacular geology. They're home to some of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth. They protect sacred tribal lands. They preserve our national natural heritage. They belong to all of us, and should be within reach of all of us. While modest fees to help defray the operating costs of the most heavily visited parks are reasonable, high fees that price poorer folk out are not. Our parks should be properly funded at the federal level.
These fees are proposed as a way of raising money for the daunting backlog of critical infrastructure maintenance and repair. Road, bridges, campgrounds, and other structures and services are in desperate need of funds. But the Trump administration wants to slash the National Park Service's budget by millions more than these fees would bring in. The status quo will stay the same or worsen. All that would change is who is able to afford to visit.
So if you care about accessibility, if you think people of all backgrounds and incomes should be able to enjoy the crown jewels of our park system, then your voice is needed. There are two important ways you can help without even leaving your house.
- Public comments are open until November 23rd. Make your voice heard. Let the National Park Service know that you do not support these fees, and why.
- Contact your federal representatives. Demand they protect the National Park Service, and fund our public lands adequately. You can write them a postcard, make a phone call, or reach them by email.
Stand with those senators who are demanding accountability and action from the administration and Congress. Together, we can ensure our national parks are kept funded and accessible for ourselves and for generations to come.
- Fees are proposed to more than double at 17 parks during their peak seasons.
- Fees would go up to $70 per private vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person. Commercial tour fees will also increase, but it's not clear as to how much they will increase by.
- Kids 16 and other will still be free.
- The annual pass will remain $80 per year.
- All of the money from the fees would remain in the National Park Service. 80% of the fees collected at the 17 parks would be retained by those parks, with the remaining 20% distributed to other parks.
- Funds will largely be spent on infrastructure maintenance, repairs, and upgrades, and other visitor services.
- Fee increases would go into effect in early 2018, with Joshua Tree National Park being the first affected.
- The following parks would see increases in 2018 during their peak times:
Denali National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Grand Canyon National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Joshua Tree National Park: January 1st – May 31st
Sequoia and Kings National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Yosemite National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Rocky Mountain National Park: June 1st – October 31st
Arcadia National Park: June 1st – October 31st
Glacier National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Arches National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Bryce Canyon National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Canyonlands National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Zion National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Shenandoah National Park: June 1st – October 31st
Mount Ranier National Park: June 1st – October 31st
Olympic National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Grand Teton National Park: May 1st – September 30th
Yellowstone National Park: May 1st – September 30th