Cost of Communing


Cost of Communing

National parks embark on a four-year program to raise fees.

Nature lovers who haven't visited a national park lately may be surprised at the higher cost of communing with nature. Last year, the National Park Service began a four-year program to simplify fees throughout the park system. The result: 23 parks raised entrance fees in 2006; 12 bumped prices up this year; 41 are scheduled for increases next year; and another 86 are on the markup list for 2009 and beyond. Starting in 2011, fees will go up every three years at the rate of inflation.

Resistance at the local level could be enough to quash hikes not in effect already, at least for a while. That's what happened at Yosemite National Park, where fees were to increase this year from $20 to $25 a car, but will now remain flat until next summer or maybe even later.

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The most expensive parks will cost $12 per person or $25 per vehicle to enter. That's not a lot for a one-time summer vacation to Yellowstone. But it can add up for locals who visit regularly, especially when you add fees for lodging, demonstrations, ranger-led tours and the like.