National Parks May Raise Entrance Fees As $12 Billion Expense Backlog Grows

A herd of bison graze in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in this June 20, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/FilesA herd of bison graze in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in this June 20, 2011, file photo. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/Files

The National Parks Service (NPS) is proposing a fee hike during peak periods of visitation for select parks to help pay for $11.3 billion worth of needed maintenance.

The hike would apply to 17 parks during their busiest five consecutive months of the year, and it would raise NPS revenue by an estimated $70 million per year. During peak visitation periods, selected parks would cost $70 for a car or truck, $50 for a motorcycle, or $30 for a person on bike or foot, according to an NPS press release.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. “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 NPS proposal is open for public comment from Oct. 24 to Nov. 23.

While the proposal was made in the best interest of national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) does not see rate hikes necessary or the best way to deal with the parks’ aging infrastructures.

“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs,” NPCA President and CEO Theresa Pierno said in a statement. “If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog.”

The rate hikes would apply to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting May 1, 2018; to Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting June 1, 2018; and to Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018, according to the NPS press release.

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