The Entrance Station at Joshua Tree National Park | NPS Photo
Fees to enter national parks across the country are slated to increase on January 1, along with some camping fees.
In response to public backlash on a fee proposal released in October 2017 that would have some parks charging up to $75 for entrance, a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks was enacted. The 165 National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee were set to see a $5 or $10 increase for the motor vehicle pass, depending on the park. The other 254 national parks remain free to enter. Individual, bicycle, and motorcycle entrance fees are also increasing by up to $5. Some parks already implemented the fee increase in 2018 or 2019. January 1, 2020, marks the final phase.
Park-Specific Annual Passes are also increased or are increasing at most fee-charging parks. For instance, a the Annual Pass to Petrified Forest National Park will go up to $45 from $40. “This increase in fees will allow us to continue to protect, preserve and share the special places here at Petrified Forest National Park for current visitors and future generations. Fees were last increased in 2015.” said park superintendent Jeannine McElveen.
80% of fees collected in a park stay in that park, the other 20% help fund the National Park Service as a whole. Fees currently represent less than 10% of the National Park Service’s $3 billion budget.
The nationwide annual pass (The America The Beautiful National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass) will remain $80 a year, and the nationwide Senior Pass will remain $20 a year or $80 lifetime. The Access pass for people with disabilities remains free.
The National Park Service has also announced five entrance fee-free days for 2020. They are:
● Monday, January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
● Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
● Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
● Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day
● Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day
The first of the year commonly marks price increases at government-run campgrounds, and this year is no different at some federal campgrounds across the country. For instance, developed campground fees at Big Bend National Park will increase from $14 per night to $16 per night.