by Mark Albert
Hazel Mountain Overlook Sunrise at Shenandoah National Park; courtesy: NPS
WASHINGTON (TVR) – Higher National Park Service fees for America’s national parks — including the most famous — take effect today, part of a sweeping series of cost-cutting and effective price hikes on American families and visitors.
The Park Service’s individual parks began announcing the fee hikes several weeks ago, which vary by location and type, and include entrance fees and on vehicles.
Some fees rose by a dollar, like the per person seven-day pass, or four dollars like the camping per night charge at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah, to a five dollar increase for vehicles and individuals on foot, bicycle, and ski at Yellowstone National Park.
“Thirty dollars to get a carload of friends or family into a spectacular national park for seven days remains an excellent value for vacationing families,” NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum told CNBC.
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About 300 national parks, monuments, and other public lands are already free year-round.
As of today, the increases affect 117 parks, including the most visited ones, such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
The fee hikes are much less than Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had told Congress, when he explained a plan for some fees to double in cost.
“When you give discounted or free passes to elderly, fourth graders, veterans, disabled, and you do it by the carload, there’s not a whole lot of people who actually pay at our front door,” Zinke had said. “So, we’re looking at ways to make sure we have more revenue in the front door of our parks themselves.”
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In another move to raise money for a backlog of projects, the Park Service also cut its annual fee-free days from 10 to four this year, hiked the cost of a senior lifetime pass by 700%, and reduced its list of discounts.
“The greatest bargain in America is the $80-a-year pass,” said Zinke, who according to his financial disclosure statements has personal assets worth between $1.8 million and $2.8 million, VOA News reported. “I just took my kids to the theater, and after paying the ticket to the theater and having popcorn, it’s more than $80.”
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