Entrance fees rising in some national parks

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Be prepared to pay a bit more if you're headed to some national parks and recreation areas this summer.

After a six-year moratorium, the federal government is increasing the price of admission at some of its public lands and raising the fees charged for camping, boating, cave tours and other activities. The National Park Service says the money expected to be raised is just a fraction of the $11.5 billion needed to repair and maintain roads, trails and park buildings.

Some members of Congress have expressed concern about the fee increases, but National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said at a March congressional hearing that visitors are still getting an incredible deal when compared to other recreational pursuits.

"We cannot greet them with failing facilities," Jarvis said of the 295 million people expected to visit National Park Service properties, which also include sites like the Lincoln Memorial.

Fees have increased in eight parks, including Yosemite, so far and are likely to rise in several dozen more parks in the coming months.

Click through the gallery below to see the proposed fees:

National Park fee increases\
See Gallery
Entrance fees rising in some national parks

Everglades National Park, Florida
Increasing the annual pass from $25 to $40

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pineland, Everglades National Park (Unesco World Heritage List, 1979), Florida, United States of America.

Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Clouds loom over the Florida Everglades

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A bird flies over the sensitive ecological landscape of the Everglades National Park home to many endangered and rare plants on March 16, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jimi Sadle (L), botanist at Everglades National Park; and George D. Gann, chief conservation strategist for the Institute for Regional Conservation,walk through the Everglades National Park as they give a tour looking for endangered plants on March 16, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tim and Gail Rumyon walk along a trail in Everglades National Park on August 8, 2013.

Photo by Taimy Alvarez/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Increasing the weekly car pass from $25 to $30

Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images

Early morning sun reveals the Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim on July 13, 2014 at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Spring storm at sunset over Grand Canyon National Park, Yavapai Point, South Rim, Arizona, USA.

Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images

Rays of light shine over the Grand Canyon as seen from Yavapai point early June 10, 2009 in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

View of the Grand Canyon, North Rim, with the rocks lighted by the first sun rays at sunrise in National Park, Arizona, USA.

Photo by Rob van Esch via Getty Images

In this photo provided by the National Park Service, visitors to Mather Point on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, in Ariz., view a rare weather phenomenon - a sea of thick clouds filling the canyon just below the rim, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.

Photo by Michael Quinn, AP Photo/National Park Service

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Increasing the price of cave tours between $1 and $5

Photo by Ed Reinke, AP Photo

In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, stone formations are seen in the Mammoth Dome area of Mammoth Cave during a tour in Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky.

Photo by Ed Reinke, AP File Photo

In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 photo, tour participants enter Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky.

Photo by Ed Reinke, AP Photo

In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 photo, tour participants stand in the rotunda area of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky.

Photo by Ed Reinke, AP Photo

In this photo provided by the National Park Service, Ranger Jerry Bransford exits Mammoth Cave following a tour of the cave, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006, in Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky.

Photo by Vickie Carson, AP Photo/National Park Service

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Increasing the annual pass from $40 to $60

Photo by Kevin Moloney/Getty Images

The last light of the sun catches mouton tops near Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park January 23, 2015.

Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

This July 19, 2014 photo shows Nymph Lake in the Bear Lake Corridor Trails area in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Photo by: Lindsey Tanner, AP Photo

Clouds over a mountain range, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA.

Photo by DEA / L.ROMANO/De Agostini/Getty Images

This image provided by the National Park Service shows Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo., rangers crossing the snowfield on Longs Peak on the way to Chasm Lake on June 17, 2011.

Photo via AP/National Park Service

Keith Conerly, right, and his daughter Kelley, of Denver, enjoy watching herds of elk Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, CO on September 25, 2014.

Photo By Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post via Getty

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Increasing the weekly car pass from $10 to $20, eventually $25

Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

A buffalo is seen in Theodore Roosevelt National Park outside Watford City, North Dakota.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, View From Scoria Point Overlook.

Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

In this June 11, 2014 file photo, longhorn cattle wander through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in the Badlands of North Dakota.

Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast, AP File Photo

Little Missouri River, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Photo by Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images

A view of the Badlands inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park is seen June 5, 1997, just north of Medora, N.D.

Photo by Will Kincaid, AP Photo

Yosemite National Park, California
Increasing the weekly car pass from $20 to $25-30, depending on season

Photo by Frederic J. Brown, AFP/Getty Images

A picture taken March 08, 2014 shows a view of Yosemite National Park valley.

Photo by Mladen Antonov, AFP/Getty Images

Highway 120 in Yosemite National Park, California, Tioga Pass road, Tenaya lake in background.

Photo by Universal Images Group via Getty Images

USA, California, View of half dome at Yosemite National Park

Photo by JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images

Shown is El Capitan Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in Yosemite National Park, Calif.

Photo by Ben Margot, AP Photo

This Sept. 20, 2012 photo shows an unnamed lake in Yosemite National Park'€™s backcountry.

Photo by John Pain/AP Photo


Each park determines how much to charge visitors after public input and approval from Washington. Jarvis told park superintendents last September to begin the public outreach that must accompany fee increases. The service went to Facebook as part of its efforts to gauge the prospect of higher fees at Yosemite National Park.

"Keep in mind - this belongs to the people, and it shouldn't be priced out of the reach of the average person," wrote Gayle Partmann of Rohnert Park, California. Partmann and her family spent several summer vacations at Yosemite when she was growing up.

"I'd rather pay money to get into Yosemite than any theme park I've been to," wrote William Sanger of Berwick, Maine, who visited the park in October.

Only about a third of the 400-plus properties within the National Park Service system charge an entrance fee. Even in those places that do charge a fee, many visitors are exempted. For example, federal law requires parks to issue free passes for the disabled and to provide the elderly with the option of buying a lifetime pass for just $10.

Families can also buy an $80 annual pass that allows them to go to as many national parks as they desire, and that price will remain the same.

By comparison, the cost of going to Disneyland for a day is a minimum of $99 for one person age 10 and over.

Fees vary from park to park. At Yosemite National Park, the country's third-busiest national park last year, the annual pass increased from $40 to $60.

Nick Haris, a motorcyclist who lives about two hours from Yosemite and travels there regularly, said the price increases are unlikely to deter him from coming back, but he's heard grumbling from other motorcyclists.

Haris said area motorcyclists generally just want to ensure they're not singled out for steeper increases than other park visitors. The National Park Service helped alleviate some of those concerns by phasing in the increase and not charging as much as originally proposed. The rate per motorcycle has risen from $10 to $15 this year and will jump to $20 next year.

"I think it's worth it," Haris said.

Jarvis said the National Park Service collects about $180 million annually through fees and had hoped to raise $45 million more through all the fee increases. But officials have delayed or rescinded some proposed increases based on opposition from local residents and lawmakers.

The agency's needs are numerous. Half of all paved roads in the national park system have been designated as in fair to poor condition. More than two dozen bridges need repair, as do more than one-third of the hiking trails - some 6,700 miles, according to the agency.

Some Republican lawmakers have questioned the scale of the pending fee increases. Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose Northern California district includes Lassen Volcanic National Park, said the cost of "just driving through the park" is possibly jumping from $10 to $25 per vehicle, while hikers and bikers would see fees go up from $5 to $12 a person, and motorcyclists could see an increase from $5 to $20.

He said a modest increase, perhaps 25 percent, could be understandable. But going beyond that "really starts making a difference in people's pocketbooks," LaMalfa said.

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