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Revised NPS plan will increase fees at Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park by $5

The National Parks Service abandoned a plan that could have tripled the cost of entry

Malgorzata Litkowska/Shutterstock

The National Parks Service has decided to scrap a plan that would have tripled visitor fees to 17 highly-visited national parks, including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park, instead opting for a small, flat increase, typically $5, to all fees for parks that charge admission.

The new fee structure for Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks, which takes effect on June 1, brings vehicle passes to $30, per-person fees to $15, and annual passes to $55. Initially, the parks service proposed pricing the parks at $70 per vehicle and $30 per person during peak season from June through October, or $75 for an annual pass.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful pass will stay the same, at $80.

NPS says the fee hikes are necessary to complete a $12 billion maintenance backlog. The proposal, according to NPS estimates, would raise an extra $60 million per year, $10 million less than the original proposal—but either way, it makes up less than 1 percent of the funding gap.

Entrance fees

Pass type Current fee Fee starting June 1, 2018 Original NPS plan (peak season)
Pass type Current fee Fee starting June 1, 2018 Original NPS plan (peak season)
Park annual pass $50 $55 $75
Per person $10 $15 $30
Per vehicle $25 $30 $70
Per motorcycle $20 $25 $50
The current, upcoming, and previously proposed entrance fees to Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks. National Parks Service

“The $11.6 billion maintenance backlog isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement. “This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels.”

The original plan to hike up parks fees drew strong public backlash, including from climbing legend Jim Whittaker. “I don’t want to walk the trails with just the 1 percenters. I want to be with everyone,” said Whitaker at a press conference last fall. “We need nature. Don’t price anyone out of the wilderness.”

“I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal,” continued Zinke’s statement. “Your input has helped us develop a balanced plan that focuses on modest increases at the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to larger increases proposed for 17 highly-visited national parks.”