National park fees to skyrocket — Comment now or forget it

National park fees to skyrocket — Comment now or forget it

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

The calendar is quickly closing in on the last day to make comments on the National Park Service’s move to possibly jack up entry fees on some of the most popular parks in the U.S. In a move that Department of Interior Secretary Ron Zinke calls “targeted fee increases,” 17 parks would see entry fees skyrocket to $70 per carload of visitors during peak season.

Which parks would see the fee hikes? Under the current plan, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018. Other parks include Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

How much of a fee jump are we talking about? Presently, entrance fees at Grand Canyon are $25 per carload. Up the rate to $70, you’re looking at more than a 250 percent increase in fees. At Arches, your present $10 rate jumps a mere 600 percent.

The Secretary assures such fee increases are necessary. “[These increases will] help ensure that they [the parks] are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting. We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”

Have something to say? Your comments are welcome until November 23, 2017 [extended to December 22, 2017]. Visit the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240.

[Editor: For those of you leaving such thoughtful comments below this article, please be sure to pass along your comments to the PEPC where they, hopefully, will do some good. Thank you!]

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32 thoughts on “National park fees to skyrocket — Comment now or forget it

  1. John Springer

    Our wonderful government is raising entrance fees while simultaneously cutting the park service budget by $400M and ordering layoffs. They’re also raising funding for resource extraction (oil, gas, mining) from Federal lands.
    This is basically a move toward privatizing public lands because the billionaires have no use for them. If they get entrance fees high enough, maybe they can sell them to Disney.

  2. Jeri Doherty Lessley

    I have the senior pass. However, there are many young families who will not be able to see the Parks. All the entrance fees should be put back into the Park, where the fee was paid. Congress shouldn’t be able to spend the money elsewhere, as I think they can do now. Then there would be no need to raise the fees.

  3. CatK

    Dont forget that Seniors had a chance tho get a lifetime National Parks Pass for $10 by August 27 , 2017. This pass also lets you take in four guests! What a benefit!!!

    1. Monty Arch

      And it’s still a great deal at $80.00!

  4. Gilbert Owens

    All this will accomplish is to “weed out” the poor people who do not feel they can afford the high price of entry to our National Parks that should be available to all folks. I understand the overcrowding problem the parks are dealing with but high-jacking the poor people is no way to solve the problem! Shame on the National Parks!

    1. RONNIE WILKINSON

      AIN’T IT THE TRUTH!!!

    2. Steve

      The prices will remain the same EXCEPT during peak season. Anyone who can’t afford the peak season prices can still visit during the off peak seasons–which is a smart way to try to smooth out the demand curve.

      Plus, the annual passes will still be $80, so that becomes a much better deal if this goes through.

    3. Rory M Roberts

      Wholeheartedly agree!!!!!!!!

  5. Sherry Dawson

    I filled out a comment. I hope all RVTravel member do also. Here’s what I said:

    Please, please, please think of a more creative way to accomplish the maintenance upgrades! This will forever deny most of the middle and lower class Americans the joy and privilege of visiting our glorious national parks. Though I am currently protected by a lifetime disability access pass, I know I can’t count on that continuing benefit either. Were I younger and not disabled, I couldn’t afford one to visit our parks with these fees.

    Many of our national parks were originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. My father was employed in that amazing endeavor and was forever proud of the work he and his team did. He often took us to visit parks he had a hand in developing, and we came to appreciate his contribution as well. Why not consider something similar today? A modern CCC could be organized with out-of-work or underemployed Americans with skills or willingness to learn and work. Or staff it with young people who can’t or don’t attend college, but need to learn job skills. If done right, it would benefit the employees as much as it would the nation. President Trump has advocated job training programs for those not college bound. This seems like program he could embrace.

    If this idea is impractical, please get some of the smartest people President Trump says he has on his team to envision a solution that does not involve raising entrance fees! A step like this would likely mean that only rich Americans and foreign visitors could afford to visit these national treasures. Remember, we American taxpayers own them and already pay for their upkeep and staffing.

    1. Glenda

      I totally agree with Sherry. I’ve thought about how sensible it would be to revive the CCC to employ those out of work, students on summer break and even the homeless. Not everyone can or wants to attend college — and, besides, many jobs don’t even need a college degree.

    2. Linda Fieth

      I couldn’t say it better than Sherry! If you’re trying to keep the parks nice for an elite few….you’ve cheated Americans out of something they’re already paying for and defeating your ultimate purpose. I agree with the idea of a modern day CCC as well. Made sense back then…makes sense now! Don’t take these amazing parks away from the majority of Americans who grew up with them and want to pass that tradition on to their children and grand children!

  6. Steve

    In the interest of honest journalism, please be ACCURATE with your story. These increases are proposed ONLY during peak season, and primarily as a way to smooth out demand a bit more evenly. A family will still be able to afford to visit if they can do so outside of the times when these specific parks are overcrowded (just like airlines charge more on their busiest days of the week, and hotels–AND RV PARKS–charge more during peak season. It helps to spread the demand, and as a nice side benefit, increases funding.

    Either you want to protect the parks from the damage of overcrowding, or you want cheap access at all times. You can’t have both…….

    By the way, the annual passes will still be $80, and they will still be valid at all parks at all times. Suddenly those would become an even better value……

    1. RV Staff

      Thanks, Steve. The article mentioned the start of “peak season” but didn’t say why. It’s been updated to indicate the fee increases would be during the peak season at those parks listed. Thank you for calling this to our attention. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

    2. Margaret

      Supposed to smooth out demand by denying the poor access? A lottery system or reservation system would be much fairer.

      1. Steve

        How is a lottery system or reservation system “fairer”? Would that be online? What about the folks who don’t have good internet access? We have some state parks here in Colorado that use a lottery system for reserving some of the facilities, and they open them up 6 months out. If you do not have super fast internet, and do not get online immediately at that 6 month deadline, you don’t get the reservation. So….those of us who live in rural areas that do NOT have super fast internet (it is not offered in a lot of places) have no chance of that “fair” reservation or lottery.

        EVERY smart tourist destination does the same thing. Why is it cheaper to fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays? Because there is less demand on those days. Why is it cheaper to stay in a downtown hotel on weekends? Because most business travelers (the bread and butter of those hotels) go home on weekends. Why do RV parks in FL and AZ charge more during the winter? Because that is when they are in the most demand.

        And, seriously……how many people would a $40 difference REALLY affect? Here’s an idea–how about lowering the gasoline tax so that they can save that $40 GETTING to the parks instead?

        1. michael

          Unlike other tourist destinations, WE own these. Coming up with a method that doesn’t make us pay more for something that belongs to US shouldn’t be that hard for the ‘very best people’ to come up with.

    3. Dan

      Sorry Steve, once a fee is introduced as it is, it will eventually be permanent all year around. And you can have them both, increase the National Park service budget significantly. That would solve the problem.

      1. Steve

        So…..complain when they try to make it permanent year-round. That would make no sense for the purpose of this proposal, as its main goal is to lessen the damage caused by the peak season mobs.

        This is a SMART proposal, but trying to keep that fee year-round would not be.

    4. Kathy

      There is a reason for peak season. Kids are out of school and cans go to these parks!

      1. Steve

        And? The reason plane tickets are cheaper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to most destinations is that fewer people want to fly on those days. People who CAN fly on those days reap the benefits, and it helps the airlines manage their demand a bit more.

        Welcome to the world of capitalism…….

  7. Dan Varcoe

    Please do not increase cost of accessing our country’s parks. If expenses are too high, eliminate some of them. The affordable access to these areas in their natural and rustic state is more authentic and appreciated than improvements, conveniences and added services that may cost more.
    The expense of getting there has increased, largely because of fuel tax; cost of living has increased at a higher rate than personal income. We are at risk of losing access to these places for the lower and middle income folks and making them reserves for the wealthy only. Don’t let it happen! Don’t get caught in the trap of continual improvement at any cost. When these parks were established they were attractive enough on their own to deserve special recognition and designation as National Parks and special retreats, we don’t need to enhance them further.

    Thank you for listening to the citizens you serve and not following some comprehensive plan that was designed by “Departments” or special interest groups including your own. These areas should be available to be enjoyed freely by all our people.

    1. Steve

      So……..why charge an entrance fee at all? Could you imagine the summer mobs if that were to happen?

  8. Robbie

    National Parks have been underfunded for years. One of the issues is the way funds are distributed. The US Government in their wisdom, distributes funds by “sharing the bucket” rather than by usage.

    We were camp hosts at Arches, and found huge numbers of visitors, but few improvements because of no funds. The volume of traffic and the number of those without respect, added to the problems immensely.

    As a senior, we’re safe with out America The Beautiful discount card…..We’re pleased.

  9. Jim Bennett

    I,for one,welcome increases since many of these Parks are so crowded anymore,especially with foreign tourists,one can barely get around. Yellowstone has gotten so bad,one must almost have a lot of “yen” to get in.

    1. Linda

      An increase could hurt those with low incomes being able to take their children to see our parks. I would rather see the politicians manage the bugets and quit overspending.

      1. RONNIE WILKINSON

        VERY TRUE!!!

    2. TP

      Yeah, let’s drive away these “foreign tourists” and their money they spend in this country. And while we’re at it, jack up the rates so the poor people can’t get in either.
      Apparently National Parks are just for wealthy Americans.
      Sheesh!

    3. Al

      My wife and I will visit the Southwest in May/June 2018. Coming from Germany the whole trip costs us around 8.000 $. About 7.000 US-Dollar will stay in YOUR country and will help save jobs in the tourist-industry. So please don’t blame foreign tourists for what tourists do. They come to visit. Statements like yours keep them away. And all the benefits too.

  10. Jimmy Thomas

    Why play right into this monster’s hand by giving him what these monsters want. Recognician. You simpleton you made him out to be an ordinary guy who just had a bad day . I will never send another penny of support until you apologize for your gross ignorance in naming and picturing this satanic non-human.

    1. John

      What???? I think you owe an apology!

    2. Tommy Molnar

      Jimmy, what am I missing here? What are you talking about?

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