FREE admission days have been slashed from 16 in past years to just four in 2018, and none span an entire weekend.
Worse, admission fees may double or more, to $70 per vehicle and $15 per person, for the most popular national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree.
Simply, the one-two punch of fewer no-fee days and higher admission fees will make it more expensive for students and moderate-income families to enjoy our amazing National Parks system.
National Parks fee-free dates for 2018
January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
September 22 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day
This is a reduction of 75% from past years, when fee-free days included Presidents’ Day in February, National Park Week in April, the National Park Service birthday in August, and the entire three-day Veterans Day Weekend.
The reduction of free admission days and admission fee hikes reflects reduced commitment by the Trump Administration to the National Parks System.
National Parks admission fee increase
In October 2017, the National Park Service announced a proposal to charge higher fees in peak season, as long as five months per year, at 17 of the most beloved parks, to help pay for maintenance to roads, campgrounds, bathrooms and visitor’s centers.
Under the proposal, entry fees would double or more, depending on how you arrive. Fees would jump from $30 to $70 for private cars, from $25 to $50 for motorcycles, and from $15 to $30 for pedestrians or cyclists.
The price of an annual pass remains unchanged, at $80, the same price as the lifetime pass for seniors, which went up last year from $10 to $80.
In addition to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree, other parks proposed for the admission price increase include Glacier, Acadia, Olympic and Rocky Mountain.
The proposed price increase is similar to the surge pricing charged by car services like Uber, and higher rates for airline tickets and hotel rooms in peak travel season.
The 17 parks included in the peak season proposal “are the top revenue parks,” according to the National Park Service.
According to the NY Times, 80 percent of an entrance fee is used in the park where it is collected, and the rest is spent to support other national parks, including those with no admission fee.
Normally, 118 of the 417 national parks in the country charge an entrance fee, while the other 299 national parks do not.
The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks that charge an entrance fee.
In addition to the lifetime senior pass, discounted passes are available for current members of the military, families of fourth grade students, and citizens with disabilities.
Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2018 including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
America’s national parks welcome more than 280 million visitors a year, to world-famous destinations such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, and to national landmarks operated by the National Park Service, including the Statue of Liberty. Or, the moment at Central High School that your child suddenly understands what civil rights are all about.
America’s national parks are important both to the economy and the environment. They protect and preserve the places we most value, and add enormous economic value to the small towns and family-owned businesses near the parks.
It’s a $30 billion annual benefit to the national economy and supports more than 250,000 jobs, according to the National Park Service.
With more than 84 million acres of spectacular scenery, 17,000 miles of trails, 5,000 miles of shoreline, 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures, and 100 million museum items and an infinite number of authentic American stories to tell, America’s national parks are true superstars.
Can you name the parks with the highest and lowest elevations, largest waterfall, deepest lake?
- the country’s highest point, in Denali National Park
- and lowest point, in Death Valley National Park
- deepest lake, Crater Lake National Park
- longest cave, Mammoth Cave National Park
- tallest trees, Redwood National Park
- highest waterfall, Yosemite National Park.
What’s your favorite national park?