National Park Service to Raise Entrance Fees

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River. Courtesy of Miles Farnsworth. 

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River. Courtesy of Miles Farnsworth. 

Starting next year, the National Park Service is considering raising their fees for their 17 most visited national parks during peak season. Raising the entrance fee could potentially increase revenue for infrastructure developments by up to $70 million on top of the $200 million the NPS already makes a year, according to a press release by the NPS.

The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration.
— U.S Secretary of the Interior

Private vehicles would now have to shell out $70, while motorbikes would be $50, and pedestrians on bicycle or foot $30. A park pass that is only for those 17 parks will be available for $75. This proposed fee increase, if approved, will begin between the months of May and June of 2018, depending on the park. The NPS is holding a public comment period between Oct. 24 and Nov. 23 on their Planning, Environment and Public Comment site. Those who would like to voice their opinion before the fee increase takes effect are welcome to direct their statements to the website mentioned.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The rise in entrance fees is due to a lack of funds for infrastructure from NPS, which handles the operations and maintenance of over 400 parks where only 118 require visitors to pay fees. The NPS has an $11 billion backlog of maintenance, including repairs to roads, structures and bathrooms. “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 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.”

Zinke has been in the news lately for orchestrating the shrinking of several national parks, but most famously Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which could potentially re-open the land for mining or drilling. The Outdoor Retailer Show, which has called Salt Lake City its home for 21 years, has recently relocated to Denver, Colorado because of the controversial move by the Department of the Interior. Major brands like Patagonia and Arc’ Teryx decided to skip this years summer show for the same reason.

So far the conversation among lovers of the outdoors has remained divided with some agreeing that these parks need to be fixed, while others are claiming that the parks should remain available to everyone and that the increase in price may dissuade people who are venturing to public lands for their first time.

Alejandro Medellin