If you have plans to visit a national park this summer, be prepared to pay a higher entry fee.
Many national parks are raising visitor fees this summer. The National Park Service says that 106 of the 128 parks that already charge an entry fee are raising them now or planning to do so in the coming year. In some cases rates have doubled and even tripled.
The fee for motorcycling into Joshua True National Park went up from $5 to $20. At Utah’s Bryce and Zion National Parks the fees increased from $25 to $30 this year. The list includes many of the most-visited parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon, as well as some monuments and historic sites.
Park Service spokesperson Kathy Kupper says the money will be used to enhance visitor services and for projects like “building a trail, a picnic area, or an education center,” according to the Washington Post.
Wildlife officials say the increases are necessary to help fund a backlog of projects that have been delayed for years as Congressional budget cuts have eroded operating and capital improvement money.
More than half of all paved roads in the national park system are designated as in fair to poor condition, several dozen bridges need costly repairs, and some 6,700 miles of hiking trails also need major repair or improvement.
Fees at national parks have not changed since 2008, and the service stresses that 80% of the fees collected stay at the individual park. The new increases are not to be used for daily operations such as ranger salaries.
Despite the increases to the day passes, entry fees for annual passes to all national parks will remain at $80. There is also free park admission for active duty military members and the disabled. People aged 62 and older can purchase a $10 lifetime pass, and most parks also offer fee-free days.
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