The National Park Service is considering implementing “peak season pricing” in 17 of the country’s most popular parks, proposing an increase to $70 per car. Currently, Yellowstone charges $30 per vehicle, or $50 for Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
The parks proposed for the increase would be: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree, per the NPS.
That’s a lot of money for what the NPS says is essential repairs to infrastructure around the park service. Eighty percent of the revenue generated from the higher entrance fees would remain in the park where they were collected, and 20 percent of that revenue would be distributed to other parks—ostensibly ones which will not participate in the fee increase program. It’d basically be a trickle-down economic structure for the NPS. Make the big parks help the little parks, and so on and so forth.
It’s an interesting proposal, though one that would ostensibly lock people out of some of the country’s most beautiful vistas. Potentially pricing low-income Americans out of national parks is a step that runs counter to the very spirit that went into the creation of the parks in the first place.
The 17 parks that will be affected by the price hike have averaged nearly a 20 percent increase in recreational visits between the periods of 2007-2011 and 2012-2016, per data from the NPS. Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Glacier, Acadia, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Arches have all seen at least an increase of 1.5 million visits over those time periods.
The NPS says that “estimates suggest that the peak-season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. That is a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in Fiscal Year 2016.”
The park service is soliciting public comments on the fee increase until November 23.