The National Park Service is considering a plan to raise the entrance fees to $70 per vehicle for the most popular parks in its system. That's a big jump from current entrance fees, which average $25 to $30 per car. And it's one that could cripple the economies of local communities that depend on NPS tourism and change the dynamic of visitors to national park sites.
According to the NPS proposal, entrance fees at 17 popular national parks also would increase for other vehicles in addition to cars. The new fee for motorcycles would increase to $50 (from the current $15 to $25, depending on the park). The new fee for entering on bike or foot would be $30 per person (up from the current $10 to $15, depending on the park).
Here is a list of the parks that would be affect by the proposed fee increase:
- Bryce Canyon
- Grand Canyon
- Grand Teton
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon
- Mount Rainier
- Rocky Mountain
- Joshua Tree
The new fees would go into effect for the 2018 season.
One could argue that at $70 per visit, the nation's parks are still a darned good deal. And for those willing and able to afford $70 a pop, that is certainly true. A walk in the woods at a national park can be a life-changing experience. But for an agency struggling with an aging visitor profile and working hard to encourage new users to fall in love with (and therefore continue to support) the country's parks, this price increase could make the difference between a family vacation to Shenandoah National Park or one to a more affordable local park. Not to mention the impact this large of a price increase could have on the local communities who depend upon the tourism dollars that these popular parks bring in.
On Facebook, the reaction to the NPS' new plan has been mixed, with most upset by the proposed price increase:
While some are in favor and bring up the point that for many, the cost of admission to the parks is not the biggest fee in their vacation:
The NPS proposal is currently under a 30-day comment period, which means that it is not a done deal yet. And if you have something to say about it, the place to comment is here.
The comment period closes on November 23.