EBS STAFF WRITER
Beginning June 1, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will increase entrance fees for visitors in order to fund resource protection and visitor-facility projects within the parks. A one to seven-day vehicle pass that includes both parks is currently $25 and will increase to $50 for both parks. A seven-day pass to each individual park will now cost $30.
“We use our entrance fees to complete critical projects that benefit park visitors and our natural resources,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Eighty percent of the revenue we collect stays right here in Yellowstone.”
Wenk said the additional revenue will fund projects including road repairs; campground upgrades; rehabilitation of park structures; accessibility improvements for people with disabilities; radio and utility systems improvements; native fish restoration; and aquatic invasive species mitigation.
Yellowstone estimates the new entrance fees will generate $11 million of revenue per year, approximately $3 million more than current entrance-fee revenue.
Yellowstone is a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. In 2014, the park generated $543.7 million in economic benefits and directly supported more than 6,600 jobs. Previous fee increases have had no effect on visitation levels, according to park officials, and the last entrance-fee increase in Yellowstone occurred in 2006 when fees were raised from $20 to $25 for private vehicles.
Park managers proposed a new structure for entrance fees and reached out to stakeholders through a public comment period in November and December. The park solicited comments via mail and online and held meetings in Cody and Jackson, Wyo., as well as Bozeman. Conference calls were held with Congressional delegation staff, county commissioners, and concessioners. The 2014 proposal included a one to three-day pass that was rejected based on public comment.
Grand Teton expects revenues generated by the fee change will reach $1.2 million. The added income will be used to fund trail improvements in the Jenny Lake area; restore and stabilize historic buildings for greater understanding and appreciation of the park’s history and culture; expand youth outreach programs; and resurface park roads.
The park received 59 official comments and park managers heard from nearly a dozen people during a public open house.
“When compared to other destinations and tourist attractions across the U.S., national parks provide outstanding opportunities to experience our American heritage and make lasting memories through an affordable family vacation,” said Grand Teton Superintendent David Vela.
New YNP and GTNP entrance fees, as of June 1:
Vehicles – $30 per vehicle to visit each individual park or $50 for a two-park vehicle pass, for one to seven days.
Motorcycles – $25 for each park or $40 for both parks, for one to seven days
Foot/bicycle – $15 for each park or $20 for both parks, for one to seven days
Annual passes – $60 for each individual park. An $80 Interagency Pass – $10 for seniors – remains the same price and is valid for entry to all fee areas on federal lands. Military passes will remain free.