WASHINGTON (TVR) – The United States National Park Service is waiving fees at all National Parks for one day this weekend to celebrate National Park Week 2018, part of a series of four days this year when America’s preserved lands will be free to all.
This Saturday, April 21, is fee-free to commemorate the start of the week-long National Park Week 2018.
This is the second free day of 2018; others are September 22 and November 11.
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National Park Week 2018 Starts Saturday
Entrance fees at the 30% of national parks that charge them generally range from between $3-$30.
Free Entrance Days, such as the one this Saturday at the start of National Park Week, waive entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees, the U.S. National Park Service says.
However, “reservation, camping, tours, concession, and fees collected by third parties,” are still assessed.
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National Park Free Days Cut 60%
The National Park Service cut the number of free days from 10 last year to just four this year.
“Fewer fee-free days means additional revenue to improve facilities, address deferred maintenance issues, and enhance the overall park experience for visitors,” an NPS spokesperson said in December.
“Instead of pushing massive increases to entrance fees and cutting fee-free days, [U.S. Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke should ensure all Americans have access to our parks and public lands,” Jesse Prentice-Dunn at the Center for Western Priorities said in a statement.
In addition, the cost of a National Parks Senior Pass recently septupled—spiking 700% from $10 to $80.
It’s the first increase of any kind since 1994 to the Senior Pass, which allows unlimited, lifetime access to America’s national parks and up to 50% off some amenity fees.
The National Park Service (NPS) says it hiked the cost to generate additional revenue which will be used “to enhance the visitor experience in parks.”
NPS blames the move on Congress, which passed Centennial Legislation requiring the Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the Lands Pass, which is currently $80 per year.
National Park Discounts Year-Round
The legislation also established a new annual Senior Pass for $20.
The National Park Service does offer discounts to certain groups of people year-round.
For example, fourth graders get a free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program.
In addition, active duty military members as well as people with a permanent disability are also eligible for free annual passes.
Discounted or free passes are also available for volunteers.
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