m3n4.net October 17, 2018

Proposal could increase Rocky Mountain National Park gate fee to $70

27 October 2017, 12:17 | Tara Lloyd

Acadia now charges $25 for a weekly pass and $50 for its annual entrance pass for those vehicles.

The increase, to be put in place next year, could generate an additional $70 million to be put toward infrastructure improvements.

Number one: Overcrowding. A record 331 million visits were logged previous year across the national park system, a tourist swarm that can make a national park feel like an amusement park.

But U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, criticized the decision in a late-Tuesday afternoon statement.

Costello says that while the parks need more money for road and infrastructure repairs, she's concerned that the fee hike could make the parks cost-prohibitive for low-income families. "When you think about the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier-a huge amount of the cost is just getting there", he says.

"If there isn't always a question or consideration of equitable access to a lot of communities, it's only going to increase the disparity in terms of who is able to access our national parks and public lands", he said.

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The proposed fee increases would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion national parks starting on May 1, and in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah national parks on June 1, and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as possible in 2018.

According to the National Park Service, the peak season for each park would be defined as its busiest five-month period.

The motorcycle fee would be $50 peak season, $20 or $25 off season.

Over the years, the park service has implemented several initiatives to offer easier access to national parks, including the Every Kid in a Park program which offers free access passes to fourth graders, and the America the lovely pass for seniors - which increased by $10 over the summer.

The prices represent a huge increase over what visitors to the parks now pay.

The all-parks annual pass - the America the lovely pass - costs $80 and covers all federal recreation lands.

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The price of a lifetime pass for senior citizens jumped from $10 to $80 earlier this year and entrance rate increases also came in 2015, though the raises varied from park to park.

They're accepting public comment on the proposal through November 23 via this form on their website.

The new, higher fees are created to increase revenue to the Park Service, which estimates it would bring in an additional $70 million per year. "Our concern is that we don't want to price people out of the parks". The NPS is targeting the most popular parks at the most popular times.

"To spend $70.00 for a auto is not a lot of money when you are coming from another country to see something so iconic and one of a kind", says Forstedt.

While the backlog of maintenance has continued to pile-up for a number of years, increased visitor numbers in the last decade-plus in all national parks has caused NPS and many individual national parks to seek new ways of dealing with the onslaught of visitors. The previous record was set in 2016, with just under 3 million visitors.

To address the substantial maintenance backlog at many national parks, the National Park Service has announced a peak season entrance fee proposal today.

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