With National Park entry fees about to skyrocket, the annual pass makes more sense than ever

National Park Annual Pass

News that the National Park Service will most likely raise entry fees at many of the nations most beloved National Parks rocked the outdoor community.

According to the NPS, the proposed increase is needed to address a maintenance backlog.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “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.”

Whether you’re ok with the increase or not, it’s important to know that there is still a very cost-effective option buried within all the news of the high prices. An annual pass will remain at $80

 

While park enthusiasts may applaud the idea of improving NPS infrastructure, many voiced concerns about who would bear the financial burden.

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The idea of the National Parks was born in the mid – 1800s to make sure that America’s greatest natural treasures would belong to everyone and remain preserved forever.

Which parks will see an increase?

The proposed increase would mean higher rates for 17 of the most beloved National Parks.

Zion National Park – Observation Point
  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Denali
  • Glacier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Teton
  • Olympic
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion
  • Acadia
  • Mount Rainier
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Shenandoah
  • Joshua Tree

Under the agency’s proposal, the entrance fee for a private vehicle would jump to $70 during peak season, from its current rate of $25 to $30. Peak pricing would affect each park’s busiest five months for visitors.

How can I save money?

Whether you’re ok with the increase or not, it’s important to know that there is still a very cost effective option buried within all the news of the high prices.

An annual pass will remain at just $80.

Considering that the price of entry at 17 parks is about to jump to $70 in peak season, an $80 annual pass makes sense for anyone planning to go on a federal land more than once a year.

I’ve been an annual pass holder for two years now.  My pass recently expired, and I’m planning a trip to Big Bend National Park next month, so I headed over to the Federal Site to buy one.

Unfortunately, it looks like a recent influx in Senior Pass orders is slowing down delivery by several months.

National Park Service Annual Pass
USGS.GOV says, “If you need your pass in less than three months, consider purchasing your pass at the first site you visit”

Because I like to have a pass in my hand when I head towards a National Park, I found another and more convenient option.

REI sells the pass online and appears that there’s no backlog for delivery. 

America The Beautiful Annual National Park Pass
You can buy an Annual NPS park pass directly from REI

About the Annual Pass

  • Valid for one full year from month of purchase (through last day of that month).
  • Allows pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle to enter Federally operated recreation sites across the country.
  • Covers the pass owner and three (3) accompanying adults age 16 and older at sites where per person entrance fees are charged. No entry fee charged for children 15 and under.
  • Photo identification will be required to verify ownership.
  • Passes are non-refundable, non-transferable and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
  • FREE Annual Pass for current US Military and their dependents
  • FREE Annual Pass awarded to volunteers who contribute 250 or more hours
  • FREE Annual Pass for US 4th Grade Students

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has a decade and a half of experience working in a fast-paced newsroom. He’s worked as a journalist, weather chief, and news director.

He was on air during major weather and news events, including Hurricane Katrina, and the EF-4 tornados that struck the city of Hattiesburg in 2013.

Ortego is a two-time 1st place recipient in Investigative Journalism from The Mississippi Associated Press and a five-time recipient of Best Weather Broadcast.