Most national parks are free to enjoy, but some of the most popular destinations overseen by the National Park Service charge entrance fees of around $25 to $30 for a full vehicle. Today, the Trump administration announced a proposal to more than double some of those fees for visitors during peak seasons.
The White House contends that these increased fees are necessary to pay for maintenance that the park system has deferred for too long.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “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.”
Raising fees for 17 of the most-visited parks would mean that the NPS would collect an additional estimated $70 million per year, with at least 80% of that sum required to be spent on the park where it is collected.
Less than one-third of all national parks charge admission fees, and annual passes would still be available individual parks and for all federal lands for just a bit more than it would cost to enter a park with one passenger vehicle.
Which parks are the popular ones where fees would go up? If the proposal goes through, the higher fees would be in place when each park’s respective peak season starts, or the five months when it receives the highest traffic.
Here are when the peak seasons would begin, and the parks that would begin collecting $70 per carload on that date:
May 1, 2018: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion
June 1, 2018: Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah
Joshua Tree: As soon as possible in 2018, since the peak season begins on Jan. 1.
If you have any insights or thoughts to share with the National Park Service about the proposal, you can submit them to the National Park Service comment page until Nov. 23.
Here’s a handout from the NPS that lays out different fees for different vehicle types, and how they would change from the current structure to the proposed one in both the regular season (yellow) and peak season (green).