National Park Fees Increase

Around 100 areas bump the price of entry
Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is among around 100 planning to increase fees. (Ben Grey/Flickr)

Some national parks increased fees Thursday in order to fund maintenance needs and improvement projects.

Visitation at parks is on the rise, but this doesn’t necessarily bring a boost to park budgets. Instead, it often causes a strain. Overall, the country’s national parks need an estimated $11.5 billion to cover maintenance needs and upkeep.

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is among those upping their fees. The park has seen a 20 percent increase in visitation this year, but still needs a great deal of additional funds to start projects that will bring improvements to visitor services and facilities.

Rocky Mountain will increase the price of a seven-day pass from $20 per vehicle to $30 and its price of an annual pass from $40 a year to $50. A new “Day Use Pass” will be introduced that will cost $20 per vehicle. Summer and winter campground fees will also increase to $26 and $18 per night, respectively.

Park officials said in a news release yesterday that this increase "is still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences one can enjoy.”

Around 100 parks are planning to join Rocky Mountain and increase their entrance costs.

With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service coming up next year, bigger crowds are expected at the parks. However, Emily Douce, the associate director of budget and analysis at the National Parks Conservation Association, says Congress hasn’t put the necessary money toward “getting these parks ready for the next century of service to the American people.”

A bill was recently introduced that would allocate money to the parks by matching public and private dollars and raise the price of lifetime passes—currently $10—for senior citizens. President Obama voiced support for the bill.