NPS Proposes Steep Fee Hikes at Popular Parks

Would more than double prime-time entrance costs, as administration seeks to cut National Park Service's budget.

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A new plan from the National Park Service would more than double peak season entrance fees at 17 of the country’s most visited national parks, with the extra money going towards maintenance and infrastructure improvements.

In a press release on Tuesday, the NPS said that the entry fee for a private, non-commercial vehicle would rise to $70 during peak season—the five busiest months of the year—with motorcycle entries rising to $50 and foot or bike entry costs rising to $30.

The fee hikes would take effect on May 1, 2018 at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion, and on June 1 in Acadia, Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah. In Joshua Tree National Park, the increase would take place “as soon as practicable.”

The price of an annual pass would remain level, at $80.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the release. “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.”

The National Park Service currently faces a $12 billion maintenance backlog, and Zinke has said that closing the gap is one of his main priorities. 

However, the Trump administration’s proposed budget would slash the NPS’s budget even further, reducing discretionary funding by 13 percent and cutting 6 percent of the agency’s staff, or about 1,200 full-time jobs.

In a statement, Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, said that the parks’ maintenance costs “cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.”

“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs,” she wrote. “If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with congress to address the maintenance backlog.”

The National Park Service will be accepting comments on the plan for the next 30 days on its site.