The National Park Service will be increasing entrance fees in 2018, but not nearly as much as first proposed.
After a large public outcry when they introduced their original proposal in October 2017, NPS recently announced that fees will only be going up $5 more per vehicle. The first proposal would have skyrocketed entrance fees up to $70 per vehicle at the most popular parks beginning this year.
NPS says the funds will go towards improving the aging infrastructure within the parks. As the National Parks grow older and more visitors are using the historic facilities, they have all acquired more wear and tear and racked up $11.6 billion in maintenance costs.
The original plan was to make major increases to entrance fees at the 17 most visited national parks—however, the new proposal will only make small increases to the entrance fees at all 117 of the fee-charging NPS locations. More than two-thirds of national park sites will still be free to enter.
According to their latest proposal from April 2018, the entrance fees will change as follows: seven-day vehicle passes will increase $5, person entrance fees (if you are walking into the parks) will be an additional $3-5, motorcycle passes will increase $5, and park specific annual passes will be $5-10 more. The price for the annual America The Beautiful pass will remain $80.
The NPS estimates that this new fee plan will increase annual revenue by about $60 million. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in the NPS announcement:
“Repairing infrastructure is about access for all Americans. Not all visitors to our parks have the ability to hike with a 30-pound pack and camp in the wilderness miles away from utilities. In order for families with young kids, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers.”
Entrance fees will be increased at the largest, most popular parks beginning June 1st, 2018. The National Park Service categorized their locations into four groups based on size and type. Some of the smaller, less-visited sites will only raise the fees incrementally and not see the full increase until January 1, 2020.
For more information, see the official announcement from the National Park Service.