Planning a national park vacation for 2015? Better add some extra funds to your budget. A new proposal from the National Park Service could mean a significant increase in park fees starting as soon as next year.
According to the proposal, 115 of the 401 national park sites plan to seek public comment on an increase in entrance fees. Yosemite, Mount Rainier and Crater Lake are likely to see price hikes of at least 50 percent, while some smaller parks may increase prices as much as 150 percent. Price increases may also affect annual passes, campsites, boating permits and other park services.
While park officials know the price increases won't be popular, they also point out that they are simply trying to keep up with inflation. According to an NPS statement from Yosemite National Park, where a price hike from $20 to $30 has been proposed:
"The current park entrance fees have been in place since 1997, when a seven-day pass was increased from $5 to $20 per vehicle. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, $20 in 1997 is equivalent to $29.64 in 2014. This fee change will allow Yosemite to maintain consistent revenue while adjusting accordingly for inflation."
It's part of a wider initiative to allow the parks to fund a backlog of visitor services and maintenance needs ahead of the 100th birthday of the NPS in 2016. Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, has said the increases “will allow us to invest in the improvements necessary to provide the best possible park experience to our visitors.”
What's most confusing for the general public is that each park may have different policies about the proposed increases, and there is no one central location to address these concerns. For instance, if you are upset about the price increase at Yosemite, you need to make a comment to that park's superintendent within the public comment period. If you are concerned about a similar price increase at the Grand Canyon, you need to take it up with that park's administration. Each park has different policies and deadlines for the public to address these issues.
If accepted, the new prices could go into effect as early as next summer.
Related on MNN: