Plan to More Than Double National Park Entrance Fees Halted by Public Backlash
U.S. Department of the Interior officials have decided to reconsider a proposal introduced in October 2017 that would drastically raise entrance fees at many of the country's most popular national parks.
The decision to reconsider comes after officials received more than 109,000 comments from the public opposing the new plan that would raise entrance fees from $30 to $70 during peak season at 17 parks including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.
The new proposal would also required that anyone riding a motorcycle in the parks pay $50 as opposed to $25, while cyclists would pay $30 instead of $15.
“So the NPS would more than double the current entry fee for peak season; I know if we were considering a trip to one of these parks and suddenly found that the trip would incur an exorbitant entrance fee, I would not…repeat not take my family on this trip,” read one of the 50,000 comments Department of the Interior officials provided to The Washington Post.
While some commentators supported increasing the rates, the majority did not, leading Interior officials to readdress and restructure the original proposal to help fund the close to $12 million maintenance backlog fees national parks are facing while avoiding making the parks too expensive to actually draw visitors.
In a recent survey conducted by the Outdoor Alliance for Kids, close to 70 percent of people said they opposed the increased rate, with 83 percent saying the price hikes would make it more difficult to visit the parks down the line.
“The plan is still being reviewed and not yet finalized; we've taken the public's suggestions seriously and have amended the plan to reflect those,” a Department of the Interior spokesperson told Travel + Leisure.
“The secretary remains laser-focused on rebuilding our park infrastructure and this plan coupled with the bipartisan bill in congress will provide a historic investment," the spokesperson added, though details of what this plan will look like still remain unshared.
An official from the Interior who wished to remain anonymous told The Washington Post that some of the options being considered include a 10-percent fee increase on parks with entrance charges, as well as a $20 increase on the $80 annual and senior lifetime passes currently offered, though details have yet to be finalized.