You are here

Just Four Days Left To Comment On Proposed Surge Pricing For National Parks


Tell Interior Secretary Zinke you don't want surge pricing in the National Park System.

On Thanksgiving Day the window to comment on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's proposal to institute surge pricing at 17 national parks across the country will close. Be sure to get your comments in before it does.

Traveler believes this is a poorly thought out proposal that needs to be scrapped, not implemented. As we noted in an editorial:

* It will hit families whose summer vacation schedules are dictated by school calendars harder than those who can travel to the parks any time of year.

* The contention that this fee structure will help address the $11 billion-$12 billion maintenance backlog in the park system is weak at best, and probably laughable. Even if the new structure, if approved, generates $70 million a year, President Trump wants to cut nearly $400 million a year from the National Park Service's budget. And even if Congress rejects the president's budget, which it likely will, this bump in fees will never make a significant impact on the backlog when you take into consideration inflation and ongoing, and unexpected, needs across the 417 units of the park system. (SeeScotty's CastleHurricane Irma and Maria)

* It's inequitable when you look at other fees assessed across the federal landscape.

* The biggest parks will benefit, while smaller ones continue to struggle.

* It gives Congress more reason not to take better care of the National Park System.

Something else to consider: Why, when the Park Service announced this proposal, did they calculate the pricing in part on "family attractions," which we can only assume means commercial theme parks? Whether it's Disneyland or Disney World, Six Flags or Universal Orlando, don't confuse Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Everglades or any other national park unit as a commercial theme park, one that needs to earn profits for its operator. The National Park System is owned by the American public and Congress is supposed to hold it in trust for all Americans. And part of Congress's role is to see that the park system is adequately and properly funded via our tax dollars.

So comment today, at this site, and let Secretary Zinke know you want these special places well-cared for, not compared to commercial theme parks or opened to more commercialization in the bluff that that needs to happen to better fund the National Park Service. 

Please Support Independent National Park Journalism

Use the links below to make your donation to National Parks Traveler via PayPal, or send your check to National Parks Traveler, P.O. Box 980452, Park City, Utah, 84098. The Traveler is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media organization. For U.S. residents, 100 percent of your contributions may be eligible for a tax deduction in accordance with applicable law. 


Secretary Zinke,

I am OUTRAGED at your idea of imposing astronomical fee hikes at National Parks!  These beautiful parks are icons of this country that should be affordable for ALL to enjoy.  Funding for maintenance of these parks and monuments should be done through taxes, as it always has been. Raising fees and cutting $400 mill in tax support is ABSURD!  That is much needed funding to help the parks.  There are other places $400 mill in taxes should be cut, such as defense spending.    National Parks are not to be run like country clubs. These ideas of yours do NOT serve the overall well being of the citizens of our country. I am truly embarrassed for our country, to have a Secretary of Interior even think about ideas like this. We need and deserve better public servants than you.

The height of hypocrisy is whining about proposed park fee increases only to request donations for "Independent" journalism.



Although  a fee of $70.00 may sound high really it's not if your spending 7 days within the park.  That's just $10.00 per day per car.. However a fee structure  should be in place for those who just want to visit for a day or 2.  I agree that a fee of $70.00 for just one day far to high and will keep many visitors away.. but have a fee of $25 .00 or even $30.00  per car for day use would be acceptable to most.   Higher park fees are necessary to keep the parks looking their best, but with the high visitor count the current fees just don't allow for the upkeep necessary.  Folks should remember the rate is per car not per person.. you pay more  per person to go to Disneyland  or 6 Flags, for one day.  I'm all for the increase.. Plus if your a frequent visitor you can purchase a yearly pass..

Joshua - please expand and connect your logic? Kurt is independent here, he needs donations, and he isn't hypocritical.

Joshua, thanks for raising this issue. The Traveler is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media organization. We are not tied to the federal government, we receive no tax revenues, but rather depend on contributions from readers and grants from foundations and organizations.

As a media organization, we do from time to time take positions on issues involving the National Park System, sometimes in support of, sometimes disagreeing. If this fee increase would have a meaningful impact on the maintenance backlog we could possibly support it or take a neutral position on it. But it doesn't.

Actually, Joshua (or Ponzi McFlower or whoever you are called in real life), it's op-ed.  The editor-in-chief of this site was stating his opinons about surge pricing, for legitimate reasons.  If you read the entire article and read past articles, then you'd understand those reasons, even if you don't agree with them.  This site allows for commentary by anybody, and it's not funded by the federal govt, like our national parks are; the taxpayors are not paying for this site. That's why it's considered independent journalism.  No corporation or government entity owns this site and orders the editor and staff to write only what "they" want written. Perhaps that's what bothers you?  I dunno, but I do know to keep ths site going for people who actually like to read these articles and leave their own opinions in the comments section, it takes cold hard cash to keep it going from donations.  I'm pretty certain most people who visit this site to read the articles know the difference between donations and funding by tax money.  If you truly think this is hypocrisy, though, then don't bother coming back to this site to leave other comments. Because then you'd be the hypocrite. Right?

You can't see Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosrmite, Desth Valley etc in a day.   

Joshua, there is no hypocrisy here.  NPT is a non-profit charitable entity performing a public service by publicizing issues related to the National Park Service.  Many of these issues are seriously under-reported in the media.  The National Park entrance fee increases are, in my opinion, excessive.  Especially coming at the same time the Federal Government is drastically reducing the National Park Service (NPS) budget.  This government funding pays for necessary NPS visitor services which are already badly stretched, and will be further reduced at the same time the Park fees are increased.  Something is wrong here.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide