Zinke wants to jack up national park entrance fees

The cost to visit popular national parks would almost triple.
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The National Park Service announced Tuesday it is suggesting a fee increase at the most popular national parks, that could start in 2018. The entrance fee would rise significantly from $25 per car to $70. It will be $50 for motorcycles, and $30 per person on foot or bike.

The proposed fee increase may impact frequently visited national parks during their peak-visitation months. The peak visitation months refer to the park’s busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. For example, at Mount Rainer, the fee increase would be charged June through October. At Olympic, it would be from May through September. The rates will stay the same during the park’s off-season.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, in a statement released from NPS. “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. 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.”

Former NPS Rangers to Zinke: Protect our parks

The parks that could see the increase include:

  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Denali
  • Glacier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Teton
  • Olympic
  • Sequoia & King Canyon
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion

The extra revenue would go towards improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks, including roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services. The National Park Service says if implemented, this could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year.

Executive Director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau feels there is no doubt this increase will negatively impact tourism. "As the National Park is our single largest attraction for visitors near and far, it means it would also cool down visits to the Olympic Peninsula, and that will have an adverse effect on local businesses," she says. "In a rural economy like ours which is strongly supported by visitor spending, such a downturn would be felt broadly."

Keith O’Toole, Director of Operations at JD High Country Outfitters, located right near Grand Teton National Park, doesn’t think the higher price will drastically effect visitors.

“We just learned of this fee hike this morning, so we are still processing the impact,” says O’Toole. “My gut tells me that an increase was inevitable, but more than doubling it all at once is a bit of a shock. Will it hurt visitation? Maybe, but I don't think it will have a major impact, especially when an annual is only $10 more.”

If you want to weigh in, a public comment period with NPS is open until November 23. Visit their website to learn how to comment. 

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