I have no idea what you’re talking about. What’s going on?
In October 2017, The National Park Service proposed a fee increase for 17 national parks in 2018. The parks are the following:
Acadia National Park (ACAD)
Arches National Park (ARCH)
Bryce Canyon National Park (BRCA)
Canyonlands National Park (CANY)
Denali National Park (DENA)
Glacier National Park (GLAC)
Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA)
Grand Teton National Park (GRTE)
Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR)
Mount Rainier National Park (MORA)
Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO)
Olympic National Park (OLYM)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI)
Shenandoah National Park (SHEN)
Yellowstone National Park (YELL)
Yosemite National Park (YOSE)
Zion National Park (ZION)
**UPDATE – APRIL 2018**
The NPS announced in April 2018 that they would no longer double or almost triple the entry fees for these parks. Instead, they have decided to increase the fee to many parks by $5 to $10. For more information, please see the NPS announcement here.
How much is the proposed increase?
For vehicles the fee will go up from $25 to $70. This is a 180% increase!
For bikes the fee will go up from $25 to $50. This is double the current price!
Per person the fee will go up from $15 to $30. This is double the current price!
For some parks, the bike and pedestrian fee will increase by a higher percentage. For example, the current per person fee at Joshua Tree National Park is $12. An increase to $30 would more than double the current entry fee. The same applies for the motorcycle fee at Joshua Tree National Park, which is currently set at $12 and would increase to $50 if the hike is approved.
Why is there a proposed increase in the first place?
According to the NPS fact sheet, the fee is necessary to “improve visitor experience and increase revenue to help address the deferred maintenance backlog.”
Who is affected by this increase?
Anyone who does not have the following passes:
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass
Free Annual Pass for U.S. Military
Annual 4th Grade Pass
Access Pass (for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with disabilities)
Senior Pass (U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 years old or older)
Is there a fee increase for The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass?
No. The current $80 fee for this pass will remain as is.
Does this increase apply for peak and off-peak seasons?
This increase is only for peak season. Nonetheless, the peak season for each park varies. The peak season for Joshua Tree National Park is from January 1st to May 31st. Most of the parks on the list start their peak season in May or June because most visitors go during summer break.
When will the proposal be approved? Can I do anything to stop it? Is this really happening???!!!
The NPS has allowed for a “public comment” period before a final decision is made. You can click on this link to tell the NPS what you think about the proposed fee until December 22, 2017. Click on COMMENT NOW.
As soon as I heard about the proposed fee, I reached out to some of my favorite bloggers and asked them what they thought about this proposal. They are as baffled about this dramatic change as I am, and we wanted to let others know how this whopping increase could price us and many others out of the national parks. Read below to find out why we think this fee increase is counterintuitive and an abhorrent injustice.
Joy from Part Time Exploradora
As if this administration could not offend another part of my existence, parks are now under attack as well. I shudder at the thought of parks being charged, because this puts a barrier on those who can enter. Those that would suffer the most are lower income families and persons. Parks are where my immigrant Latino family would go to celebrate parties, reunions, and enjoy our community in create a home in our new land. It is where in my darkest times, I connected back to myself. It is where in my most depressive states, I learned to be present and grateful for. I fell in love with hiking and felt a deeper connection to the earth, reminding me that we are stewards. Parks connect us to our ancestral roots. In the United States we have taken the parks for granted in our busy cities, they have allowed us to escape and remember to come back to ourselves. Having parks remain free is essential to give access to those who cannot afford to do so have the benefits and connection by raising it we are essentially causing a greater rift in socioeconomic inequality.
I fell in love with hiking and felt a deeper connection to the earth, reminding me that we are stewards.
Kiona from How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch
When people think of Texas, they think of cowboys, tumbleweeds, and a dusty flat desert. What most people don’t know is between Texas and Mexico lays a green, mountainous area where mountain lions, bears, and wild boars roam. In the morning as the sun rises, the rock lights up in every shade of pink and orange, peaking through abandoned adobe houses, and warming up the mud banks of the Rio Grande river. At night, the critters come out and hum to every single star in the sky. With no cell phone service, no light pollution, just pure nature, humans can revel in the connection we have with mother earth. But that’s not what makes Big Bend National Park America’s greatest treasure. Waking up to crystals and dolls placed around $7/night campsites by Mexican fairies before the sun wakes up, in a friendly cultural change that has existed in this area before there were borders is what truly makes this place special. This sacred ground, void of the animosity that exists only in the media, demands peace. Because here, everyone is the same, everyone is important, and we are all connected as one. There is no price for this.
You can’t really charge for the experience of human and earth connection. There is not a defined monetary value on nature. In addition, America is a melting pot of people that all should have access to these national parks. With an increase in yearly dues, we counteract what America stands for, a land for everyone. Do we really want to send the message that nature is now a privilege for the rich, not a right to the human soul? My answer is no. I’d take humanity over money, any day, but that’s just basic common sense.
You can’t really charge for the experience of human and earth connection.
Jessica from The Walking Mermaid
My family and I were planning on going to a few of these National Parks in the near future. As a family of 4 we were planning to drive as it is cheaper than flying and also renting a car. Now having to pay this steep increase in park fees our trip is going to be much harder to plan and take longer to save up for. Just getting in would be $70. Camping is even more on top of this entry fee. I don’t think it matters how beautiful the park is or the views but a family can’t afford to pay so much for one trip on top of all the other expenses such as gas, food, overnight stays, pet boarding, etc. especially when traveling across so many state lines just to reach one of these beautiful National Parks.
I think we should try other options first before thinking of charging such a steep cost to those who love the great outdoors and actually care and preserve it. Increasing the cost to these 17 National Parks will not increase the money coming in by a whole lot as many won’t be able to do the trip due to this steep fee. On the contrary, it will discourage many of even going to these parks due to the cost. I understand that they want to further care and preserve the parks for future generations but instead of increasing the cost of the park entrance and fees, maybe do an educational class or course as a requirement for everyone to be able to visit the park. Raising awareness will have more of an impact than discouraging our public of even going to these parks by overcharging them. The parks can even do fundraisers, pledge drives, gather donations, etc… to help reach any extra expenses that they may have for the year or even for any new plans for the park.
Raising awareness will have more of an impact than discouraging our public of even going to these parks by overcharging them.
Isabelle from Dominican Abroad
Although a steep fee increase would help preserve and maintain our beautiful parks while alleviating their crowdedness, I think a 180% price increase is exorbitantly high and would go against the very purpose and essence of national parks: an opportunity for every American to enjoy their country’s nature. This includes Americans of all economic backgrounds. And the cost of $70 a day would simply be unreasonably high for a day or afternoon visit to a park.
Since the parks are for the American people, perhaps our government should alleviate the park’s budget deficit in order to ensure that Americans from all economic backgrounds can still access our natural wonders. Perhaps the increase could be more gradual to $30 a day, instead. Or maybe they could raise that price to tourists like many other countries do so that the local residents can still partake in their community’s nature. If these options aren’t possible, then perhaps they can enact a fee waiver program for individuals of lower economic means, assuming that the implementation of this type of program wouldn’t be too costly.
I think a 180% price increase is exorbitantly high and would go against the very purpose and essence of national parks: an opportunity for every American to enjoy their country’s nature.
I went to Acadia National Park in June 2017. I borrowed my father’s car, booked a camping site outside of the park in order to save money, brought my own food and paid the $25 fee to enter the park. I didn’t purchase an annual pass because I knew I would only be visiting one national park this year. Next year, I plan on visiting one too. But $70 to enter by car? Yes, I can afford it. Would I have been able to afford this fee 3 years ago when I was first introduced to hiking by a friend and I was a college student? Not at all. It would have been a valid deterrence and I simply wouldn’t have had the money for it. That’s why when I heard about the 2018 fee increase, I didn’t think just about me.
I’m worried about all the prospective lower-middle class families (and individuals) who see the national parks as accessible and educational become completely out of their reach. If you already have an annual pass, that means that you most likely go to different parks throughout the year and that you can afford to get this pass while traveling from state to state. The point of an entrance fee for non-annual pass holders is to allow for people to make a day trip or a trip for up to a week to see one park and the natural beauty of the United States. It’s for people like me, who don’t see the need of buying an annual pass because we can’t afford to go to more than one park per year. If this change is approved, the annual pass will remain $80 but it will cost $70 to enter ONE park by car if you are not a pass holder. How does this make sense? I hope the NPS reconsiders such a dramatic increase by maintaining the current fee. Pricing people out of their country’s national parks by raising the fee 180% will mean they won’t step into them or even get the opportunity to value them.