Central Coast residents who enjoy visiting some of California’s most popular national parks could face a steep increase in entrance fees during peak seasons starting next year.
Thanks to a proposal released Tuesday by the National Park Service — which aims to “generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks” — outdoor enthusiasts would be required to pay a $70 entrance fee per vehicle, up from the current fee of $30 for a weekly pass.
Under the proposal, peak season entrance fees for each park would be defined as its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation.
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For Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon that period is May 1 to Sept. 30. Joshua Tree’s peak season would be from Jan. 1 to May 31.
For the rest of the year, the fees would remain at the current rate of $25 to $30 per car, depending on the park.
“Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a release. “We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today.
“Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”
The Park Service says it expects to increase revenue by $70 million per year with the proposal — a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in 2016.
Annual $80 passes for federal lands would not change, though fees would go up for pedestrians and motorcyclists.
In addition to the three California parks, the proposal also applies to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah; Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming; Mount Rainier and Olympic in Washington; Shenandoah in Virginia; Acadia in Maine; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Denali in Alaska.
A 30-day public comment period began Tuesday and will continue until Nov. 23. For more details or to comment, go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates.
The 17 Parks
What: These are the 17 national parks being considered for entrance-fee increases during peak visitor months in 2018.
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Arches National Park, Utah
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah
- Denali National Park, Alaska
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Olympic National Park, Washington
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Zion National Park, Utah