You are here

Deadline For Commenting On "Surge Pricing" In National Parks Runs Out Friday Night


Time to comment on a proposal to more than double, in some cases, entrance fees to national parks during the busy summer season runs out Friday/NPS

Your time to comment on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's proposal to use a surge pricing system at 17 national parks in an effort to whittle away at the National Park System's estimated $11.3 billion maintenance backlog runs out Friday.

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon (two parks treated as one under this proposal), Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion national parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

The peak season for each park would include its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. The peak season entrance fee for a seven-day pass to each park would be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.

Many groups and some communities across the country have spoken out against the plan, which would more than double weekly entrance fees at parks such as Acadia, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain during their high summer seasons. While some of the opposition stems from the belief that surge pricing such as that described by the Interior secretary would in effect price some folks out of the parks, the Association of National Park Rangers also believes the pricing structure could raise safety issues.

"Park visitors have been expressing frustration over issues including high fees, long lines, lack of parking and lack of staff. There have been incidents of fee collectors and visitor center staff being yelled at and harassed over these issues," the association said in speaking out against the proposal. "In many units of the National Park System, ranger staffing levels have been declining while visitor use has been increasing. Many parks hire seasonal employees during peak season. The fee increase may shift visitor use to off-peak seasons when fewer staff members are available to assist visitors, or it may encourage people to purchase the $80 Annual Pass and increase visitation, further overwhelming existing facilities and staff in some of the proposed parks at the same time park operations budgets are proposed to be cut."

The ranger association also pointed out that national parks are more than just outlets for human recreation, and as such Congress has an obligation to properly fund them.

"We are concerned that a proposal to triple the fees at certain parks assumes that National Park System areas are primarily recreation sites that might be eventually largely financed by visitor receipts. However, more than just recreation sites, these are places that preserve, by law, our natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations," the association said. "Many values are protected in our national parks, including outstanding wildlife, wilderness, recreation, and historic resources that are the envy of the world. They provide an important 'window' into our past and future that must be preserved.

"The Association of National Park Rangers wants to keep our national treasures accessible, protected, and safe for all visitors, and believes they ought to be managed primarily with federal tax revenues, with an additional limited contribution of fees from the people who visit in a given year," the group concluded. "We look forward to working with the (Trump) Administration to solve the issues that arise and to ensure the protection of our national parks for future generations."

To add your thoughts to the Interior secretary's proposal, visit this site before the end of the day Friday.

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. 


I'm trying to be diplomatic in my opinion here but then I thought "Why?" our President doesn't bother so I won't! Shame on his bully tactics in this and the weaklings who supported a entrance fee hike like this! National Parks are our national treasures and should be enjoyed by all! I teach low-income children from the Midwest and yearly they do a research paper in order to expose them to treasures out of their reach. They enjoy it so much and talk about how they can visit the parks out west some day. Don't make something so simple even more difficult for them!PLEASE!!!!

What is "bullying" about raising the money to repair facilities, pay staff and attempting to even out the flow of visitation?  What is wrong with pointing out that "free" is an illusion and that everything, even a National Park, has a cost associated with it?

Perhaps the kids will find it more welcoming when they try to schedule a tour of the Western Parks by using a corrupt reservation system because there will be howls of protest when something like that comes down the pike.  More than likely their tour will end up being on a bus because the well connected companies are the only ones who will be able to cobble together an itinerary that makes sense for the amount of time they have to visit.

Or maybe they will throw up their hands in frustration and decide to go to Disney Land. 

RickyAZ, we hope you hold the same view when it comes to reading the Traveler. With your support, we can enhance and broaden our coverage of national parks and protected areas.

This whole thing is BS from Trump. Our parks are OURS. The fact is, Trump, in conjunction with the Koch Bros & others want to END National Parks so they can sell the land, mine, log, & basically destroy them for their own greed. By raising the price so high, they will make it so people can't afford to go to their own parks--the next statement will be that since people aren't attending parks, we will sell them. Even this commentary is BS. Legally they have to request our comments. Trump & Zinke will ignore them & do want they want.  All we can do is fight them--which we'll do. This whole thing is absolutely disgusting--these parks belong to ALL AMERICANS!

Instead of creating exhorbant fees for some parks, start charging nominal fees at parks and museums that see thousands of visitors each year.  Why should just a few places have to carry the burden for the whole system!  Keep ALL of our National Parks accessible to all citizens....not just the privileged few.

Lots of armchair quarterbacking here on this subject.  As one that has spent many months visiting quite a number our National Parks in the last two years, let me speak from experience.  Sure, everyone would love to visit Yellowstone, Arches, Grand Canyon, and many more; and have a joyous time that they will remember for a lifetime.  The truth is that their memory will be more like a nightmare.  Overcrowding everywhere.  No parking, lines for food and restrooms, shoulder to shoulder people everywhere, speaking every language of the world.  Believe me, it's not an enjoyable experience.  Something must be done.  If an increase in price reduces crowding, then it will help more people enjoy the experience.  I had the pleasuse of visiting Phantom Ranch years ago, which I truly enjoyed.  Now there is a lottery system going into place for those wanting to have the same experience.  Thanks to the lottery, they will experience it much the same as I did.  Forget the politics, and help with suggestions that will really address the problems associated with overcrowding in our parks. 

My wife and I have been visiting our National Parks for years. I agree and support that National Park fees need to be increased (I have felt this way for years). I would also support raising the 'Regular Season' per person and per vehicle fees $5.00. I do feel that the motorcycle 'Peak Season' fee is a little high (No, we do not own a motorcycle) since that is usually only 1-2 people per vehicle. It is still a deal! Where else can a family visit for 7 days for these prices? The popularity of our parks has increased and with this the demands are exceeding the designs and natural aspects. I also feel that Congress needs to allocate more towards our National Parks.

Not quite that simple. Cost of collection for many of those small units is actually more than the amount that would be raised by adding a fee. This is the reason that some parks stopped charging fees a few years ago. If it costs $30,000 to charge fees and the park only makes $25,000 (typical numbers for a tiny park) the balance comes from the park base budget. If a park has fewer than 50,000 visitor a year it is quite possible that fees would be counter productive to theier budget.

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